Take action!
How to Get Involved
 
 

Tunisia’s Islamists Propose Prison Sentence for Insulting Mohammad

Washington, D.C. (August 16, 2012) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that the Islamist party Ennahda introduced a new bill on August 1 that would warrant imprisonment for insulting Islam, thus threatening religious freedom and free speech in Tunisia.

On August 1, the ruling Islamist party Ennahda proposed a law in the National Constituent Assembly that criminalizes “insults, profanity, derision, and representation of Allah and Mohammed,” Agence France-Presse reported. Habib Khedher, a member of Ennahda and the Constituent Assembly, told Shems FM that violators of the law could receive a prison sentence of up to two years, or four years for repeat offenses. Similar restrictive laws were recently proposed in Kuwait and have existed for decades in Egypt, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia. They are, however, new to Tunisia, a country that was considered the Arab world’s most secular nation prior to the uprising that overthrew President Zine El Abedine Ben Ali in January 2011.

The bill follows the prison sentence of two young men for publishing caricatures of Mohammad on Facebook and the conviction of Nabil Karoui, the owner of Tunisian channel Nessma TV, for airing the animated film Persepolis which features a cartoon depiction of God. Karoui described his trial as the “death of freedom of expression [in Tunisia].”

The Ennahda party appears to be succumbing to the rising influence of Salafis, who follow the radical Wahhabi interpretation of Islam found in Saudi Arabia and are demanding the establishment of a strictly Islamic state.

Tunisia is a signatory of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which condemns blasphemy laws and guarantees the freedom of religion and of expression.

Aidan Clay, ICC Regional Manager for the Middle East, said, “Bans against blasphemy are increasingly being enforced and expanded not just in Tunisia, but across the Middle East, to crush the fundamental freedoms of religion and expression. The so-called ‘Arab Spring’ that toppled oppressive dictators throughout the Muslim world is now giving rise to another form of tyranny – Islamist-dominated governments that criminalize blasphemy to silence dissidents and stifle freedom of speech  and worship. These laws will embolden radical Muslims to commit violent acts against perceived blasphemers which, inevitably, will primarily target the Christian community and non-Sunni Muslim minorities whose beliefs are deemed unorthodox. We urge Tunisia’s ruling Ennahda party to abandon a bill that will constitute a breach of the country’s international human rights obligations.”

Forward to a friend
  • Kids

    Care for orphans and hurting children

    read more
  • Families

    Support wives and children of imprisoned or martyed pastors

    read more
  • Pastors

    Spread the gospel by supporting underground pastors

    read more
  • Women

    Save women from abduction and sexual exploitation

    read more
  • Communities

    Help rebuild communities devastated by persecution

    read more

Other Projects

other projects

ICC is constantly monitoring the state of Christian persecution in countries around the world and looking for ways that we can act as bridge between our supporters and the persecuted church. Beyond the projects you see above, we are working in many other areas to provide practical assistance to our brothers and sisters in Christ. View our other projects page to understand more of our work and keep up to date on our current projects.