Tunisian journalists will go on strike on April 2 to protest the president’s “attempts to control public media,” according to union officials, amid fears that the 2011 revolution’s right to free expression may be jeopardised.
The primary journalists’ organisation has slammed attempts to put state television under President Kais Saied‘s direct authority, as well as the incarceration of a journalist last week for failing to divulge his sources in a piece about Islamist extremists.
Since suspending parliament and taking most powers last summer in a move his opponents have dubbed a coup, Saied has established one-man rule, though he has sworn to protect the rights and freedoms acquired during the democratic revolution.
His acts, critics argue, suggest he has little tolerance for criticism, including replacing the body that ensured judicial independence and threatening to withdraw foreign funding for civil society organisations.
The looming strike adds to growing opposition to Saied’s measures across Tunisia’s political spectrum, but he still continues to enjoy some popularity amid dissatisfaction with coalition governments that have been hobbled for years by fighting.
After adopting a new democratic system in 2011, Tunisians gained significant freedom of expression and press, although much of the country’s media has continued to air things critical of Saied, including reporting on anti-Saied protests.
The Journalists Syndicate, on the other hand, claims that such freedom is under threat, citing increased limitations on journalists reporting in public and a ban on state television sponsoring opposition figures in political debates.
“State TV has become a propaganda trumpet for the president,” Amira Mohamed, a senior official in the journalists’ syndicate, told reporters.
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