Men get seven years for Facebook cartoons of Prophet Mohammed

Men get seven years for Facebook cartoons of Prophet Mohammed

Summary: Two young Tunisian men have been sentenced to seven years in prison for posting cartoons on Facebook showing the Prophet Mohammed naked. One is in custody while the other has fled Tunisia.

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Last week, a Tunisian court sentenced Jabeur Mejri and Ghazi Beji to seven years in prison for posting naked caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed on Facebook. They were given five years in prison for causing public disorder with what the court deemed as immoral actions as well as an additional two for bringing harm to others via public channels of communication.

The two young men, both in their late twenties, were also fined 1200 Tunisian Dinars ($790) each for publishing content considered blasphemous on the social network. Mejri and Beji were put on trial following a complaint filed by a group of residents.

"They were sentenced, one of them in absentia, to seven years in prison, for transgressing morality, defamation and disrupting public order," ministry spokesman Chokri Nefti said in a statement on Thursday. The ruling was given on March 28, but wasn't reported till today when bloggers started posting information about the case on the Internet. The League of Tunisian Humanists condemned the sentence and complained about the trial on Facebook.

Beji was the one that was absent. He fled when he heard his friend Mejri had named him while being tortured.

"When the security forces first arrested Mejri, they told him that they detained him to protect him from any Salafist attack," Beji told Tunisia Live. "But later, they assaulted and tortured him. I was told that he mentioned my name under torture. When I heard of what happened to my friend. I knew that I had to run away. I went to Algeria, Turkey and then crossed illegally to Greece. Here, I am now trying to contact NGOs and other countries to grant me asylum."

This all started when Beji, a biotechnology food engineer, wrote a book called "the Illusion of Islam," in which he discussed his views about Islam and religion. Mejri, an English teacher, meanwhile wrote a book called "Dark Land," in which he criticized the government, Islamists, and Arabs in general.

At the time of writing, Mejri is still in custody while Beji is in Greece. This case will likely further fuel accusations that Tunisia's new Islamist leaders are stifling free speech.

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Topic: Social Enterprise

Emil Protalinski

About Emil Protalinski

Emil is a freelance journalist writing for CNET and ZDNet. Over the years,
he has covered the tech industry for multiple publications, including Ars
Technica, Neowin, and TechSpot.

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11 comments
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  • Tunisian Revolution

    Well, so much for reformist movements.
    johnsmith9875
  • Kind of puts freedom of speech in perspective

    This kind of garbage happened all the time in the imperial days of Europe in the middle ages. They would have been called witches and burned at the stake. That is why our founding fathers (US) saw the need for the first amendment. The punishment seldom fits the crime in oligarchies. You can build all the skyscrapers and fake islands you want but while medieval punishments are still being doled out, and Christians are still being slaughtered by the hundreds because of paranoid delusions, you will always be a primitive society.
    zmud
  • the Arab Spring has turned into a frigid Arab winter

    Tunisia has taken a hard right turn towards intolerance and religious fundamentalism.
    Your Non Advocate
  • So much for that breath of fresh air

    I had hoped for much more than this out of the Arab Spring.
    boomchuck1
  • Let's face it...

    These people are a little on the evolution challenged side. But they blow up real good.
    ITOdeed
  • Ahhh the joy of religious fascisim.

    In one corner, we have the jews, in the other we have the moslems and in the other we have the christians......

    All perfect examples of gulliable people are and how they can be trained from birth to accept any drivel as being factual - and to throw totalitarian shit fits with anyone who has any ideas that are different.

    Funnily enough - it's all one huge con-job.

    Not once has the diety, the prophet or the holy man ever put in an appearance to take umberage with the offenders, but the brainwashed sheep are stepping up and doing it for them.

    The first 6 books of the old testament are a word for word rip off of the Code of Hammurubi, - the city / state bylaws of Babylon - when a bunch of scheming scam artists, stole it, ripped off the covers and stuck on thier own - with the prefix "god said" instead of "The King said".

    And it's been a scam fest ever since - when Abram and Mohammed teamed up to share the craft to cultural manipulation through their own "Ministries of Propoganda".\

    Then comes the magic mushroom tripping holy people of Judea who codified the use of magic mushrooms into texts which then got turned into the non existant diety of jesus.

    All a highly profitable conjob.
    Wroger Wroger
    • Thanks for the insight

      You've just demonstrated your own intolerance for all of us. Glad to see this isn't limited to religious folks.
      boomchuck1
  • Death to religion

    ...and the shitheads that fertilizes it.
    MatsSvensson
    • Death? For a BELIEF?

      I seee that even the atheists have their bloodthirsty mullahs.
      hippiekarl
  • Since when does the noun 'prophet' rate capitalization?

    Has Islam somehow intimidated the secular international press into special deference? Afraid the zealots will come torture YOU, too, if you don't buff the legendary caravan-robber/child molester Mohammed? (Wait! the Caravan-robber Mohammed...the Child Molester Mohammed). Everyone else gets by referring to, say, 'the prophet Daniel', or 'the prophet Zarathustra'. Don't you guys use a 'style book' to standardize your 'journalism'?!
    hippiekarl
  • Ghazi BEJI

    I'm Ghazi beji who speak about me my friend jabeur is know in prison torture, i was escape in europe
    https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004367321109&ref=tn_tnmn
    Ghazi Beji