Trial of Ghazi Beji and Jabeur Mejri

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Ghazi Beji [1][2] and Jabeur Mejri are Tunisian citizens sentenced on 28 March 2012 to 7.5 years' imprisonment for "transgressing morality, defamation and disrupting public order" after posting naked caricatures of Mohammad to Facebook.[2][3] Mejri faced trial in court, while his friend Beji was convicted in absentia, having fled to Europe to escape prosecution.[4] Mejri's appeal of his sentence was denied on 25 June 2012. Mejri's lawyer objected to his client being denied medical evaluation, describing him as "mentally unstable" and unemployed for the past six years.[5]

Initially, only a few organisations discussed the affair, namely the League of Tunisian Humanists, Reporters Without Frontiers, and other independent militants.[6][7] Amnesty International named the two men prisoners of conscience, "convicted solely for their peacefully held views", and described the case as one of the Tunisian government's "mounting attacks on freedom of expression". The organization called on Tunisia to drop the sentences against both men immediately.[8] The International Freedom of Expression Exchange described the sentencing as "an extremely disturbing event", naming it as part of a pattern of "repeated attacks against journalists, artists and women who commit the 'crime' to express their opinions freely".[9]

Reuters also described the case as feeding charges that the Islamist leaders who had taken power in Tunisia following the January 2011 Tunisian Revolution were suppressing free speech.[2] The Associated Press described the case as having "shocked many Tunisians" and as "a sign of the new importance of Islam in Tunisia".[10] Deutsche Welle cited it as an instance of the disillusionment of Tunisian bloggers following the revolution, writing, "Their revolution appears to have failed." One blogger described the case as an example of how "selective" government prosecutors had become, observing that calls for violence or bombings on Facebook were never similarly prosecuted.[4]

Jabeur Mejri was released from prison in January 2014 having served almost two years.[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kacem El Ghazzali (1 April 2012). "Tunisian Atheists sentenced to seven and a half years of prison". Atheistica. Retrieved 1 April 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c Tarek Amara (6 April 2012). "Tunisians jailed for Facebook cartoons of Prophet". Reuters. Retrieved 1 July 2012. 
  3. ^ Jihen Laghmari (6 April 2012). "Tunisia Jails Two Men Over Prophet Caricatures on Facebook". Bloomberg. Retrieved 1 July 2012. 
  4. ^ a b Arne Lichtenberg (27 May 2012). "Bloggers criticize Tunisia's failed revolution". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 1 July 2012. 
  5. ^ "Jailed Tunisian loses appeal over Facebook Prophet Mohammad cartoons". Al Arabiya News. Agence France-Presse. 25 June 2012. Retrieved 1 July 2012. 
  6. ^ "Tunisia: Two atheist friends convicted for blasphemy". Index on Censorship. 5 April 2012. Retrieved 15 October 2013. 
  7. ^ "Tunisia: Two men sentenced to seven years for blasphemy". Digital Journal. 6 April 2012. Retrieved 15 October 2013. 
  8. ^ "Tunisia: Mounting attacks on freedom of expression". Amnesty International. 24 April 2012. Retrieved 1 July 2012. 
  9. ^ "Un événement extrêmement inquiétant ... des attaques répétées contre les journalistes, les artistes et les femmes qui commettent le « crime » d'exprimer librement leur opinion". "Le TMG de l'IFEX s'inquiète des attaques répétées qui ciblent les manifestants, les médias, les acteurs et les universitaires" (in French). International Freedom of Expression Exchange. 10 April 2012. Retrieved 1 July 2012. 
  10. ^ "Tunisia court upholds cartoon blasphemy conviction". CBS News. 27 June 2012. Retrieved 1 July 2012. 
  11. ^ http://www.tunisia-live.net/2014/03/04/jabeur-mejri-finally-released-from-prison-according-to-lawyer/