More Bloggers Join Tunisian Hunger Strike
Three additional Tunisian bloggers joined Ramzi Bettaib‘s ongoing hunger strike this week in protest of violations of freedom of the press. Leena Ben Mhenni, Azyz Amami, and Emine M’tiraoui join Bettaib’s 10 day hunger strike protesting government confiscation of two of his cameras while reporting on the Thala and Kasserine Martyr’s Trial. Reporters Without Borders condemned [French] Tunisian authorities yesterday and demanded Bettaib’s confiscated materials be returned to him, adding ” this trial, one crucial for the history of the nation of Tunisia, must be able to benefit from real media coverage.”
Meanwhile, the Tunisian Human Rights Minister Samir Dilou rejected UN recommendations to decriminalize same-sex acts, calling homosexuality “specific to the West” and incompatible with Islam. In response to claims that the law violates individual freedom, the minister said he believed all Tunisians are entitled to basic protection, but not gays, lesbians, and bisexuals.
Additionally, Tunisia’s Jewish community may have two seats reserved for them in the next parliament, according to a proposal favored by some in the Committee on Legislative and Executive Power. However, Roger Bismuth, president of the Tunisian Jewish community, called the proposal another one of the government’s “stupid ideas” and unlikely to give Tunisia’s 2,000 Jews a real voice.
Also, Assistant Secretary Jose Fernandez visited Tunis last week and spoke on enhancing Tunisia’s good governance and increasing citizen confidence through tax reforms. International Crisis Group also offered recommendations to the Tunisian government in a report published Wednesday that lists specific steps to be taken to restore socio-economic stability. The report outlines reforms to promote youth employment, national reconciliation, and greater engagement of all Tunisians after decades of top-down rule.