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Tunisia’s Religious Persecution

ICC Note:

More Tunisians have been given prison terms for offending Islam, Gatestone Institute reports.

By Anna Mahjar-Barducci

4/20/2012 Tunisia (Gatestone Institute) – After two Tunisian citizens were condemned to a seven-year prison term for publishing writings perceived as offensive to Islam on March 28, Tunisian journalist Najoua Jo wrote, "In today's Tunisia, has anyone the right to be an atheist and to publicly avow it? The answer is clear: it is no." It was published by the Tunisian media outlet, Webdo.tn.

One of the two men, Ghazi Ben Mohamed Beji, was convicted for publishing an essay in July 2011 entitled, "The Illusion of Islam," in which he depicted in a satiric way Prophet Mohammed's life with particular reference to his sexual habits. The other jailed man, Jaber Ben Abdallah Majri, simply published photos on his Facebook page containing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed drawn from Beji's book.

As reported by Human Rights Watch, the two men, both 28, have been tried and condemned by a Tunisian court for having published documents "of such a nature as to be detrimental to public order and morality." The two men were indicted on the basis of article 121 (3) of the penal code. Beji managed to flee to Europe on March 9 and was therefore tried in absentia. Mejri is deteriorating in prison.

This case is not the only one. A few days after that sentencing, the official media reported that another Tunisian court sentenced a man, Ramzi Absha, to four years in prison for desecrating the Koran. Absha had allegedly thrown copies of the Koran into lavatories at several mosques in the southern city of Ben Guerdane. According to his lawyer, was suffering from mental illness -- a fact totally ignored by the court.

The international media are still refer to ruling Ennahda party as "moderate Islamist". Moderate probably means that it is not affiliated to Al-Qaeda, but since the party -- which has strong ties with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood – is ruling, Tunisia is assisting in the repression, violence and jailing of people, whose only crime was to express their opinions. The AFP reported that the number of trials on charges of transgressing morality has surged since the Islamist Ennahda party won Tunisia's first post-revolution elections in October.

[Full Story]

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