Tunisians rally against government media crackdowns

Media crackdown protest, Tunisia

Across Africa’s Maghreb region media crackdowns have become a common occurrence as leaders – or more accurately dictators – succumb to paranoia and fear the journalists who expose their corrupt acts on the World Wide Web, and therefore feel the need to capture the freedom writers on trumped up charges and intricately spun lies.

Hundreds of Tunisians, who refuse to be complicit to their President’s authoritarian and oppressive rule, stormed the capital chanting “down with the dictatorship” on 31st May in protest of the president’s waves of arrests, Al Jazeera reported.

READ: Omar Radi: Martyred in Morocco’s culling of the free press

In the Arab world, Tunisia was considered to have one of the most open media environments, although the humanitarian rights and freedoms bar has never been set incredibly high across North Africa or the Middle East.

Tunisia currently sits at the ‘Partly Free’ status with a ranking of 59/100 for Freedom on the Net, according to Freedom House. Morocco sits closely behind Tunisia with a ranking of 53/100, and maintains the status of ‘Partly Free’, whereas Saudi Arabia has a rank of 25/100 and has been declared as ‘Not Free.

READ: 43 cases of censorship and Morocco’s rise of repression

Despite the freedom stats, since President Kai’s Saied came into power in 2019, press freedom has been significantly restricted, especially within the last year.

Two prominent Tunisian media figures were served year-long sentences for spreading “false news”. The lawyers of broadcaster Borden Bsaies and political commentator Mourad Zeghidi deemed the president’s Decree 54 and ruling “unconstitutional” and both figures defended their “journalistic work”.

“When politics enters the courtroom, justice leaves,” Kamel Massoud, Zghidi’s lawyer said.

Tunisia has now imprisoned six journalists under Saied’s Decree 54, however, the National Syndicate of Tunisian Journalists reported that over 60 journalists, lawyers and political opposition figures have been prosecuted under the same ruling.

President Saied has neglected accusations of his authoritarian rule and claims that he has only taken steps to end the “chaos and corruption” in Tunisia.

Although the EU has criticised the numerous arrests, the coalition continues to pour millions into the Tunisian economy (or Saied’s pockets) to ‘solve’ the migration crisis – basically bribing North African governments to prevent migrant boats from crossing the Mediterranean at all costs and with no regards or concerns towards human rights.

Tunisia expects a presidential election by November 2024, however, it is uncertain as to who will assume or resume the position of power, as Saied seeks to eradicate all competition by throwing the opposition and their supporters in jail.

Al Jazeera/AP/FH


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

[mc4wp_form id="206"]