Tunisian Journalist detained over social media posts

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Mohamed Boughalleb, a well-known Tunisian journalist and vocal critic of President Saied, has been detained by the police on charges of insulting others via social media. As reported by the New Arab on March 23rd, Boughalleb was detained for 48 hours and interrogated by a cybercrime unit.

READ: Tunisian opposition leader gets suspended jail term

The accusation was made by a female employee of the Ministry of Religious Affairs of Tunisia, who claimed that the journalist had attacked her reputation and honor through Facebook posts. Despite this, many, including the National Union of Tunisian Journalists, believe that Boughalleb’s case is simply part of a broader effort by the Tunisian president, to silence dissent and intimidate journalists.

Since Saied consolidated full power by changing the constitution in 2022, Tunisia has seen increasing journalist arrests and a crackdown on government opposition. Last January, Al-Jazeera journalist Samir Sassi was also arrested in Tunis, with President Saied directly responsible for this silencing of free journalism. Boughalleb was notably critical of the President, and his detention occurred amidst increasing arrests ahead of the upcoming Tunisian elections, which are set to take place later this year. President Saied, despite a turbulent first term, is likely to win again.

READ: Tunisia’s draconian censorship laws net maverick journalist

Tunisia is experiencing a democratic backsliding of historic proportion, with over 20 journalists currently facing charges. Many political opponents of Saied, including the leaders of the Islamist Ennahda party, as well as the right-wing Free Destourian Party, have also been arrested.

The Arab Spring started in Tunisia, where protestors managed to topple Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and transition to democracy in a much more peaceful fashion than other Arab countries like Egypt and Syria. Despite hopes that the political awakening of 2011 would hail in a new era of democracy for the country, President Saied, appears to aim to annul all progress.

The New Arab/ Agencies


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