‘Down with Dictatorship’: Hundreds Protest Media Law in Tunisia

Sat May 25 2024
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TUNIS: Several hundred of people marched through the capital city of Tunisia chanting “down with the dictatorship” as they were holding protest a spate of arrests under a presidential decree critics say is being utilized to stifle opposition.

Two Tunisian media prominent figures received one-year jail sentences on Wednesday following making remarks the officials deemed critical, in the latest prosecutions under presidential decree, a 2022 ban on “spreading false news”.

“Down with the decree,” the protestors shouted. “Dictator Kais, it is your turn now,” they said, in allusion to the uprising which toppled dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in 2011.

Political commentator Mourad Zeghidi and Broadcaster Borhen Bssais were both jailed Wednesday for spreading “false news”. Zeghidi’s lawyer, Kamel Massoud, denounced Decree 54 as “unconstitutional”.

Since Decree 54 came into force, over 60 journalists, opposition figures and lawyers have been prosecuted, the National Union of Tunisian Journalists said.

The arrests have also drawn criticism from the UN, the European Union (EU) and the United States (US), and France. But Saied, who seized sweeping powers in 2021, rejected the criticism as foreign “interference”.

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