Tunisian journalists protested on Thursday against what they say is growing repression and intimidation against the press since President Kais Saied’s power grab last year.
The demonstration was organised by the national journalists’ union, the SNJT, which has condemned authorities’ attempts to “tame” media outlets and turn them into propaganda channels.
Protesters carried signs saying “our liberty depends on freedom of the press” and shouted slogans against “repression”. Saied last July sacked the government and suspended parliament, and has since dissolved the assembly, ruled by decree and seized control of key state institutions including the judiciary and the electoral authority.
Saied’s move initially won support from Tunisians tired of the country’s post-revolution political system, but rights groups have warned of major setbacks to freedoms in the birthplace of the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings. The SNJT’s deputy chief, Amira Mohamed, warned of an “imminent danger to press freedom” in Tunisia. “Today press freedom is genuinely threatened,” she told AFP. The SNJT earlier Thursday warned in its annual report against the use of physical violence against journalists and pressure on editors to ensure favourable coverage. It noted that Saied has not held a single open press conference since his power grab, reflecting a communications policy “that does not recognise citizens’ right to know what is happening in their country”. Tunisia also fell 21 places in the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) 2022 Press Freedom Index, from 73rd to 94th position. The organisation warned that “intimidation of journalists has become normalised” in Tunisia.