Journalists demonstrate to demand press freedom in Tunisia
Tunisian journalists protested on Thursday against what they say has been increasing repression and intimidation against the press since President Kais Saied took power last year. The protest was organized by the national journalists’ union, SNJT, which condemned the authorities’ attempts to “tame” the media and turn them into channels of propaganda. The demonstrators carried signs saying “our freedom depends on the freedom of the press” and shouted slogans against “repression”. Last July, Saied sacked the government and suspended parliament, and has since dissolved the assembly, ruled by decree, and taken control of key state institutions, including the judiciary and electoral authority. Saied’s decision initially won support from Tunisians weary of the country’s post-revolution political system, but rights groups have warned of major setbacks to freedoms in the cradle of the Arab Spring uprisings in 2011. SNJT deputy director Amira Mohamed warned of “imminent danger to press freedom” in Tunisia. “Today press freedom is truly under threat,” she told AFP. Earlier Thursday, the SNJT warned in its annual report against the use of physical violence against journalists and pressure on editors to provide favorable coverage. He noted that Saied has not held a single open press conference since taking power, reflecting a communications policy “that does not recognize the right of citizens to know what is happening in their country”. Tunisia also fell 21 places in the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) 2022 press freedom index, falling from 73rd to 94th position. The organization warned that “the intimidation of journalists has become normal” in Tunisia.