Thursday, September 5, 2013
Tunisia Continues to Restrict Freedom of Expression
Since the end of the Tunisian Revolution in early 2011, Tunisia has been making an effort to reform its government as it reconsiders old policies and debates the establishment of new ones. Considering the emphasis on its first free election in the previous year, citizens would appear to be having more say in the way the country is run. However, on August 30th, the two Tunisian rappers Weld El 15 and Klay BBJ were sentenced to prison for speaking out about their dissatisfaction towards the police forces of the country. These two rappers are not the first to be prosecuted for being critical of the new administration, and this is not even the first conviction for Weld El 15. Artists and writers have also been put on trial for similar reasons. Mourad Mehrezi, a cameraman, was put on trial simply for filming an incident that was "harming public morals."
What is most alarming is that those regulations that restrict freedom of expression are remnants of the old government. Many would expect the new Tunisia to seek revisions on the more repressive laws, especially those that deny what is recognized in multiple documents as one of the most fundamental rights of a human. Freedom of expression, while vital for artists and writers of all trades, is necessary for all people when it comes to collectively analyzing where a political system could be improved. Though the approach of this expression may be considered vulgar to a majority, people are still entitled to have their say. Nevertheless, even as the two rappers go into hiding like many of the prosecuted before them, the voice of the people remains strong through public protests. Tunisia's time for change is not yet over, and numerous citizens believe the same.