Last year, Tunisian citizens Jabeur Mejri and Ghazi Beji were sentenced in their home country to 7.5 years prison for blasphemy. The two were convicted of insulting the Prophet Muhammad after they shared cartoons depicting Muhammad and criticizing Islam on their Facebook pages. Last week, Tunisian courts were supposed to hear an appeal in the case, but the appeal was withdrawn under suspicious circumstances.
Mejri is currently in prison serving his sentence. Beji fled before authorities could arrest him, but he was convicted in absentia. In addition to prison time, both were fined 1,200 dinars (about $800).
Mejri has reportedly been tortured while in prison. In a letter sent to Free Jabeur, a group campaigning on behalf of Mejri, Mejri writes:
There’s no freedom of expression here in Tunisia, it is dead. I am forbidden from medicines to cure my illness and from other rights. 07 years and 06 months is a long period to spend within a dark and gloomy small place. Officers find pleasure to torture me.
Mejri and Beji’s fates remain to be determined. Reports indicate that their defense team will now appeal to the Tunisian president for a pardon. For more on the case, visit the uncut.indexoncensorship.org coverage here and here.
Please help support CBLDF’s important First Amendment work and reporting on issues such as this by making a donation or becoming a member of the CBLDF!