Caroline Fourest, the courageous French writer and journalist and I have joined a Tunisian secularists’ demonstration held in Paris day before yesterday.
We showed our solidarity towards Tunisian secularists and Amina as well.
Francois Hollande, the President of France is going to visit Tunisia in July. We ask him to remember four names, Amina, Pauline, Josephine and Marguerite. A Tunisian, a German and two French women. Four FEMEN. They are now in prison. Three of them, including two French activists, just scoop four months in prison for protesting topless in front of the courthouse. An act considered “indecent assault, indecent and disturbing public order”. It was a peaceful protest, demanding the release of Amina, the first Tunisian Femen, which is even arbitrarily detained for several weeks.
Her crime? She wrote a word on a wall. Femen. A word on the wall made 40,000 Salafists angry on May 19. Amina has been accused of “indecency”, “grave desecration” and “conspiracy.” Amina would be sentenced to 6 to 12 years in prison. Amina, Pauline, Josephine and Marguerite are political prisoners. They are not the only ones to endure this kind of repression since the revolution. Ghazi Beji and Jabeur Mejri, two bloggers were sentenced to seven and a half years in prison for blasphemy. One in absentia. He had to take refuge in France. The other is serving his sentence in terrible condition. The Franco-Tunisian journalist, Hind Meddeb continued for denouncing the severity of the sentence of rapper Weld el 15: two years in prison for singing an irreverent song to the police.
The filmmaker Nadia El Fani can not return to the country of her childhood, where she faces up to six years in prison for having made a film about secularism ”Secularism Inshallah”! Her lawyer has also recently been persecuted for “sodomy”. Through these highly political judgments, the Tunisian justice shows a terrible face: nice with terrorists and hard with free spirits.
We are not asking the president not to go to Tunisia. Rather, he should go there for the release of these political prisoners. Undaunted by those who cry to interference or convene the past. Nothing, not the “stability” of Franco-Tunisian relationship or economic interests that justify overlook these unjust laws and how they are applied. François Mitterrand, at the time, was able to forget the diplomatic modesty to defend the cause of dissidents during his trip to Moscow.
Today, dissidents are in Tunis, Cairo, Algiers, Doha, Riyadh, wherever international theocratic attempts to gain ground on democracy and universal values.
On behalf of its voiceless dissidents, we ask the president to challenge his counterpart, the Tunisian president who claims to be a former activist of Human Rights, who had taken refuge in France when he was even persecuted under the former regime, but is silent about violations of the basic right to freedom of expression by its own government.
When President Hollande will be in Tunis, he should demand the release of Amina (18), Pauline (27), Josephine (age 19) and Marguerite (22 years), not because both of these political prisoners are French nationals, but because women’s rights and the right to freedom of expression are universal. This trip will be a challenge for the French president, whether these words have at all any meaning.
At Caroline’s house in the evening, Femen leader Inna Shevchenko came. Inna had to leave Ukraine because Christian fundamentalists were threatening her for cutting down the holy cross. Franco-Tunisian film maker Nadia El Fani also came. We all raised our voices to free Amina who is now in a prison in Tunisia.
Freedom of expression is still a distant dream.