A Tunisian blogger was sentenced to six months in prison on Tuesday for parodying a Quranic sura, entitled “Sura Corona”, to incite respect for barrier gestures. She was found guilty of “attacking the sacred”, “offending public morals and inciting violence” and will have to pay a fine of 2,000 dinars (650 euros). This sentence reopens the debate on freedom of belief and expression in Tunisia.
“Where’s the freedom of speech? Where is the freedom of belief? Where are women’s rights? Where is justice? That was just a joke. Like anyone who sees a publication that makes him laugh, he publishes it. On top of that, it doesn’t incite hatred, it invites people to wash their hands. Still, you have to read the content. When you are an atheist and when you publish it or laugh about religion, you risk going to prison. I don’t regret anything, I haven’t changed my mind, I’m not going to change, I’m not going to shut up and I’m going to fight. I receive threats of death, beheading, rape. And I’m the one who’s going to jail, not the ones who threatened me. It doesn’t make sense, and that’s not justice. If I get six months in prison for a publication, I can consider this state to be an Islamic state. “she said at the end of the hearing.
Even before her conviction, the young woman and her mother had been kicked out of their home by their landlord.
Emna Charki’s case is not the first of its kind. Another young Tunisian, Jabeur Mejri, was sentenced in 2012 to seven and a half years in prison for disturbing public order after posting texts and drawings on the Internet that were considered insulting to the prophet Mohamed and Islam. He was pardoned two years after his conviction.