«Photo or caricature?» However burning the question may be, we will not answer it in the present editorial. Instead, we will leave it to the experts at the Ministry of Culture to weigh the gravity of our «error». What we will acknowledge here is the significance of the incident, an accurate and barefaced representation of the extraordinary (mis)adventures that unfold under Saied’s New Order.
واجه الصحفي الجزائري إحسان القاضي طيلة ثلاث سنوات ملاحقات قضائية بسبب مقالات صحفية نشرت في مجموعته الإعلامية التي يديرها والمتكونة من “راديو إم” الذي يبث على شبكة الأنترنت وموقع “مغرب إميرجون”. ومنذ منتصف ليلة الجمعة الماضي، يقبع الصحفي الجزائري في “ثكنة عنتر” في ضواحي الجزائر العاصمة وهي إحدى المعاقل التاريخية للمخابرات الجزائرية، بعد أن تم تجديد إيقافه مرتين، ليحال يوم 29 ديسمبر أمام وكيل الجمهورية ثم قاضي التحقيق بالمحكمة الابتدائية سيدي امحمد بالعاصمة الجزائرية. و ذكر موقع “راديو إم” أن الصحفي المعتقل مثل أمام وكيل الجمهورية دون حضور محاميه بسبب عدم علمهم بموعد التحقيق معه، ليأمر قاضي التحقيق بالمحكمة الابتدائية سيدي امحمد بإيداع الصحفي إحسان القاضي بالحبس المؤقت على ذمة التحقيق.
There have been numerous assaults and harassment of journalists by security forces, politicians and officials in recent years–with June alone seeing 18 assaults, and May seeing 13, according to the National Union of Tunisian Journalists (SNJT). However, in the days since mass protests began on July 25 and President Kais Saied subsequently announced exceptional measures concentrating powers under him, there has been a spike in such harassment.
Nawaat condemns the harassment of its editorial team’s director as well as the manifest intention of authorities to attack its journalists. We consider these shameful proceedings as a serious threat against the freedom of expression and the right to organize. We pledge to our readers and to the public opinion to never give in to pressures and intimidation. Nawaat resisted the repression of dictatorship and will resist still more under the protection of the Tunisian Consitution, ratified international conventions, laws, and above all, the Tunisian courts. It is under the protection of these same courts that we will continue to publish leaks, including those from the Presidency of the Republic, if the occasion presents itself.
In spite of censorship by mainstream media, the impassioned rap of Klay BBJ has stirred the enthusiasm of youth far beyond working-class neighborhoods and provoked the animosity of law enforcement officials. Upon the release of «وقتاش» («When?») in January 2012, the Union of Customs Agents filed a complaint against Klay BBJ and Hamzaoui Med Amine. His mother claims that while the rapper was performing in Morocco in February 2013, two men came to her home in the hopes that she might convince her son to stop writing political songs.
The agitation that a democratic model allows represents a prompt for open, substantial discussion, create space for questions to form and answers to be formulated, for awareness to shift and public opinion to fluctuate and controversy to take its course … For over a decade, Nawaat has been a platform many of whose contributors are quick to question, criticize, and call out the Tunisian and foreign governments for hypocrisy, complicity, exploit, corruption…the very symptoms of defective governance that were renounced by youth and activists and journalists of the so-called Arab Spring, the same individuals whom Western democracies and international agencies have so effusively commended for their courage and commitment to changing the status quo. And so inevitably it feels like something of a betrayal when requests for more specific information and questions regarding political motives are consistently held at bay, excluded from discussions, or, most conveniently, ignored.
Given mainstream Western media’s portfolio of news reports on Tunisia since 2011 and also in light of the country’s constitutional guarantee for a pluralistic and fair media, it is regrettable as seems to be the case in the days and weeks that have followed the attack that foreign press should be granted more access to events of public interest in the capital than many local, independent media outlets.