Human Rights Watch criticized the two-year prison sentence for a Tunisian blogger who criticized the public prosecutor for not charging a Tunisian imam who appeared in a video clip confirming the killing of someone who insulted the Prophet Muhammad.
The organization said, on Tuesday, that the Court of First Instance in the capital Tunis, on November 12, sentenced blogger, Wajdi Al-Mahawashi, to two years in prison for posting a video clip on “Facebook” on November 1, in which he condemned the failure. holds the priest accountable and opens an investigation with him. What court officials deemed offensive.
The priest’s video was released following the killing of a teacher, Samuel Patty, at a public school in France on October 16 by a Chechen refugee, after Patti showed Muhammad Messenger cartoons in class as part of a class on freedom of expression. It appears that the video posted by the priest was later removed from Facebook.
In a Facebook post, Al-Mahwashi criticized the Public Prosecutor for not investigating the complaints he filed in 2019 against police officers he claims to have beaten him.
Instead, the organization said, prosecutors charged Al-Mahawashi with “accusing officials of committing crimes without providing evidence, insulting others through communication networks, defaming and insulting public officials while carrying out their duties”. The charges are based on criminal law and a 2001 communications magazine in Tunisia.
Al-Mahawashi was arrested just one day after publishing this video, by members of the “Anti-Terrorism and Organized Crime Unit” in the Al-Khadra neighborhood and interrogated him for at least four hours, in the presence of his lawyer, Muhammad Ali Bousheiba.
According to Bousheba, Al-Mahawashi told investigators that he was not targeting anyone with his post, and he aimed to react solely to defame the priest’s video, with the sole purpose of denouncing extremist ideas and terrorism.
Bouchiba added, “We are witnessing an increase in prosecutions which remind us of the wave of arrests and trials of bloggers and critics on social media in 2017. These prosecutions have, in fact, not stopped, but have died down, and are now returning.”
According to Human Rights Watch, since 2017, Tunisian courts have sentenced six activists on social media to prison for their critical views, but Al-Mahawashi’s “two-year prison sentence is by far the most severe against a blogger who expresses criticism on the Internet. , “according to Boucheiba. .
Al-Mahawashi is currently serving his sentence at the Mornaguia prison in the capital, Tunis, and his lawyer intends to appeal the verdict.