Tunisian loses jail appeal over Facebook cartoons of Prophet Mohammad
A Tunisian court has upheld a seven year sentence against a young Tunisian who posted cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad on Facebook, in a case that has fuelled allegations that the country’s new Islamist leaders are gagging free speech.
Jabeur Mejri was convicted on Monday of upsetting public order and morals in a country where Muslim values have taken on a greater significance since a revolt last year ousted secular strongman Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, ushering the Islamist Ennahda party into power.
The initial sentence was handed down on March 28 against Mejri, who is in jail, and against Ghazi Beji, who was sentenced in absentia. Mejri was able to appeal, but Beji remains on the run.
Mejri’s lawyer criticised the ruling which she said proved Tunisia’s judiciary was still subject to political interference some 18 months after the revolution.
“This is a very severe sentence and suggests that the Tunisian judiciary has not yet rid itself of political interference,” Bochra Belhaj Hmida told Reuters.
“We should at least seek to rule justly. This is unjust and has ruined the life of a young unemployed man. The judge showed no mercy and no consideration for this youth’s circumstances.”