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“Eid Mubarak, Mr. President”

On the occasion of Eid El-Fitr, the festival marking the holy month of Ramadan’s end, the Tunisian president has proposed that 343 prisoners be pardoned. It’s a savvy political maneuver for the divided country. Absent from the list, however, is Jabeur Mejri, a blogger incarcerated for “insulting Islam.”

Cartoonist Willis from Tunis draws attention to this oversight. From inside his prison cell, Mejri sends a bitter Ramadan greeting to the president.

Amnesty International has essential background on the case:

Jabeur Mejri was found guilty of publishing material liable to cause harm to public order or good morals, for harming others through these publications and for assaulting public morals…

Despite the adoption of new decrees on press freedom and audiovisual material abolishing prison sentences for defamation, in a number of cases against journalists, bloggers and artists, articles 121 and 226 of the Penal Code have been used. These articles dating back to the Ben Ali era prescribe punishments for the offences of “violating sacred values” and “disturbing the public order and morals”.

Beyond issues surrounding freedom of expression, “Tunisia is facing its worst political crisis since protesters toppled autocratic ruler Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali in 2011,” according to a report by Tarek Amara and Erika Solomon. The ruling Islamist party Ennahda is at a crossroads; the secular opposition has taken a page from the Egyptian playbook and launched a “Rebel” movement.

For a broad sketch of “the heated dynamics in Tunisia today,” I recommend reading Monica Marks’s analysis on the Middle East Channel.

Eid Mubarak! 

كل سنة وانتم طيبين


courtesy of Oum Cartoon أم كرتون