Tunisian journalists hit the streets to demonstrate against "state persecution."

A number of Tunisian journalists and human rights activists took to the streets of Tunis to protest "state persecution" and attempts to intimidate the media.

Feb 17, 2023 - 17:56
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Tunisian journalists hit the streets to demonstrate against "state persecution."

The SNJT-organized demonstration came three days after authorities detained Noureddine Boutar, the director of a prominent private radio station, Mosaque FM.

Boutar is one of ten prominent personalities detained since Saturday, the most of whom are opponents of President Kais Saied and members of the Islamist-inspired Ennahdha party.

"The authorities, including the president and the prime minister, are seeking to repress press freedom, and there are many indicators that prove this, such as military trials, decree-law no. 54, allegations over editorial outlines, and other practices," said Amira Mohamed, vice-president of the SNJT journalists' union.

Dalila Ben Mbarek Msaddek, the lawyer for arrested radio director Noureddine Boutar, has also commented "They opted to arrest the leader of Tunisia's best and most listened to media station instead, because arresting journalists would clearly be regarded as a blow to freedom of speech.
They are attempting to silence all journalists and editors at the radio station who are very critical of the administration, as well as other sources, by doing so ".

In response to the demonstration on Thursday, President Kais Saied denied the charges.

"Today, we hear about freedom of speech; has a newspaper ever been banned? Has a television show ever been banned? Has a single journalist ever been punished for his or her journalistic work? Regrettably, it's all falsehoods," Tunisian President Ben Ali stated.

The rally comes a day after Tunisia's largest opposition alliance said the arrests were "violent and legally baseless".

The White House expressed "great concern" about the recent arrests on Wednesday.

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