Thursday, April 05, 2012

7 Years In Jail For Blasphemy For Two Tunisian Men

 Since the Arab Spring, and the resulting rise of Islamism in the region, there seem to be more cases of jail time for 'blasphemers'.

Yesterday, a young Egyptian Christian teen was sentenced to three years in prison for mocking Islam on his Facebook page.  Now we hear of two Tunisians,  Ghazi Beji and Jabeur Mejri (both late twenties) who were fined approximately $800.00 each and sentenced at the end of March to seven years in jail.  According to the justice ministry spokesperson Chokri Nefti,

“They were sentenced, one of them in absentia, to seven years in prison, for transgressing morality, defamation and disrupting public order.”

Disrupting public order?

What's most troubling is that Mejri  and Beji (an atheist), like the young Egyptian, had posted their 'blaspehmous content'  on social networking sites. 

Beji wrote a book called “the Illusion of Islam”, discussing his views about Islam and religion. Mejri, also wrote a book. “Dark Land”, where he “cursed the government, Islamists, and expressed his hatred towards Arabs.“

Beji, a biotech food engineer, lucked out and fled to Greece, seeking asylum. When interviewed by Tunisia Live, Beji said,

  “After the Revolution, in March 2011, I said to myself Tunisia is a free and democratic country now and I should try to publish my book. I contacted several book publishers in Mahdia but they all refused to publish it. So I opted to upload it online.”
Not sure why he thought that a country that is now predominantly Islamist would not take offense to his writings, but I suppose hope springs eternal.  Not so, unfortunately, when you are dealing with religious fanatics. But it is interesting to note how many ex-Muslims there are who are atheists.  Plenty of them on Facebook.

On the other hand, Mejri, who is an English teacher, wasn't so lucky and is currently in police custody waiting to serve his seven years.

Human Rights Watch in Tunisia made their obligatory statement- that the sentencing was  “an attack on freedom of expression and freedom of belief.”   Not that any of the officials would care what HRW has to say about 'freedom', since there is no freedom of expression or belief in non-secular Muslim majority countries.

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