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article imageTunisia: Two men sentenced to seven years for blasphemy

By Katerina Nikolas     Apr 6, 2012 in World
A court in Tunisia has sentenced two young Tunisian men to seven years in prison for publishing blasphemous material on social media sites. One of the two men is in custody whilst the other managed to flee the country and reach Greece.
Alarabiya reported the court in Mahdia charged the two men with "transgressing morality, defamation and disrupting public order" for publishing caricatures of the Prophet Muhammed. Uncut reported another charge was “insulting others via public communication networks."
Jabeur Mejri, an English teacher, was arrested in early March. Ghazi Beji was tried in absentia after fleeing Tunisia. Beji is the author of the book "The Illusion of Islam" in which he details his views on religion and Islam.
Beji fled Tunisia crossing through Turkey into Greece, where he hopes to be granted asylum. Granted temproary residence he is staying in a neighborhood dominated by illegal immigrants and is subject to blackmail by those who threaten to expose him to Salafists.
Beji spoke to Atheistica, saying “Before the revolution,the system used to oppress the religious extremist, but now they started oppressing the secular population, the thinkers, and the social intellectual elite, we made a revolution to free ourselves from oppression but now it’s gotten worse.”
Since the ousting of Ben Ali Tunisians have enjoyed more political freedoms, but the move away from secularism towards Islamism is beginning to seep into the culture.
The sentence has been condemned by the League of Tunisian Humanists. Both men are to be represented by Tunisian lawyer Bochra Bel Haji Hmida in an appeal against their sentence.
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