Tunisia: Jailed Netizen Denied Eid Pardon

10 August 2013

By Afef Abrougui

Tunisian Twitter users expressed their disappointment when they learned that jailed netizen Jabeur Mejri, was not going to benefit from a recent presidential pardon issued on the occasion of Eid. Last year, Mejri was sentenced to seven and half years in prison over the publication of Prophet Muhammad cartoons on Facebook. His friend Ghazi Beji, who published a satirical book called the ‘Illusion of Islam’ on the document-sharing website Scribd also received the same severe sentence in absentia. Beji had fled Tunisia to escape prosecution and obtained political asylum in France. They were found guilty of ‘publishing material liable to cause harm to public order or good morals’, ‘insulting others through public communication networks’ and ‘assaulting public morals’.

Last April, Mejri’s verdict was confirmed by the Cassation Court (the highest court of appeal in Tunisia). His defense team decided to seek a presidential pardon. However, Mejri was not included in the list of the pardoned prisoners issued on August 8.

Photo via Facebook Page ‘Pour la grâce présidentielle de Jabeur et Ghazi’

Photo via Facebook Page ‘Pour la grâce présidentielle de Jabeur et Ghazi’

The committee in support of Mejri and Beji released a statement [fr]:

La présidence a annoncé une grâce présidentielle pour une liste de 343 prisonniers ainsi qu’une grâce spéciale de 20 autres prisonniers mais le nom de Jabeur Mejri ne figure pas sur aucune de ces listes.

Nous avons espéré que le président se rappellerait que lui même, un jour a été à la place de Jabeur Mejri et refuserait de voir des prisonniers d’opinion, durant son mandat mais … malgré les promesses qui ont été faites à demi mots à sa famille, le résultat est là : Jabeur reste en prison !

Jabeur Mejri ne passera pas l’Aid avec les siens ! Même si Jabeur n’est ni un terroriste, ni un violeur, ni un criminel ! Jabeur est un jeune qui a cru en une Tunisie nouvelle et a cru avoir le droit de s’exprimer librement !

Jabeur Mejri n’aurait jamais du être en prison! (…) Après un jugement inéquitable, il est accusé pour trouble à l’ordre public pour un message sur Facebook sur une page où il avait 16 fans !

 The president’s office issued a presidential pardon of 343 prisoners and a special pardon of 20 other prisoners. But, the name of Jabeur Mejri is not listed.

We had hoped that the President would remember that he some time ago was a prisoner of conscience like Jabeur Mejri. We had hoped that he [interim President Moncef Marzouki], would refuse to see prisoners of opinion during his mandate. But despite the promises made to his family, Mejri remains in prison.

Jabeur Mejri will not celebrate Eid with his family even though he is not a terrorist, a rapist or a criminal. Jabeur is a young man who had believed in a new Tunisia and thought he had the right to express himself freely.

Jabeur Mejri should never have been in prison! (…) Following an unfair trial, he was convicted of causing harm to public order over a message he published on his Facebook page and where he only had 16 fans!

‘Express yourself, Freedom’ via Amnesty Tunisia Facebook page

‘Express yourself,
Freedom’ via Amnesty Tunisia Facebook page

On Twitter: netizens expressed their dismay.

Plus de 300 detenus liberés aujourd hui et toujours derriere les barreaux pour ses opinions. N’oublions pas

More than 300 prisoners were freed today but Jabeur remains behind bars for his ideas. Let’s not forget this.

Sayeb @Moncef_Marzouki Jabeur n’est pas un danger public yè Marzouki

.@Moncef_Marzouki Free Jabeur, he is not a danger to the public.

Pendant que vous fetez el aid un jeune croupit dans une prison tunisienne parce qu’il a osé mettre en doute vos croyances

As you celebrate Eid, a young man rots in prison for daring to call into question your beliefs.

343 criminels libérés mais jaber est toujours en prison pour une caricature!

343 criminals freed but Jabeur remains in prison over a caricature!

@presidenceTN son crime ? Exprimer une idée ! Le prix 7.5 ans et demi de prison ! ce n est pas un terroriste lui

.@presidenceTN What’s his crime? Expressing an idea! The reward is seven and half years in prison. Jabeur is not a terrorist!
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