Defamation in absentia

A cheery news item from Tunisia:

A Tunisian court has sentenced two young men to seven years in prison for publishing caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed, the justice ministry said Thursday.

“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, adding that the sentence was handed down late last month.

Defamation…of someone who lived 14 centuries ago.

On March 28, a primary court in the coastal city of Mahdia, sentenced the two men, Jabeur Mejri and Ghazi Beji, both in their late twenties. to seven years in prison and a fine of 1200 Tunisian Dinars (around USD $800) each over the use of social networks to publish content deemed blasphemous.

Mejri and Beji were put on trial following a complaint filed by a group of residents in Mahdia.

The League of Tunisian Humanists condemned the sentence and complained about the “unclear circumstances that surrounded the trial.”

Beji wrote a book called “the Illusion of Islam”, discussing his views about Islam and religion. Mejri, also wrote a book. “Dark Land”, where he “cursed the government, Islamists, and expressed his hatred towards Arabs.”

In an interview with Tunisia Live, Beji, who describes himself as an atheist, said: “After the Revolution, in March 2011, I said to myself Tunisia is a free and democratic country now and I should try to publish my book. I contacted several book publishers in Mahdia but they all refused to publish it. So I opted to upload it online.”

Not a free country then. Possibly democratic, but not free.


  1. peterh says

    I, personally, dislike yodeling. However, to think it is in imitation of or intended to impugn in any way the muezzin’s call to prayer is madness. From the linked article: “The men reportedly accused the 63-year-old of having tried to mock and imitate the call of the Muezzin.” One more group has learned the power of invented victimhood.

  2. Sili says

    For the record, and in reference to one of Ophelia’s points, in American (and I suspect Western) law, defamation of a dead person is impossible.

    Is Mohammed technically dead? Wasn’t he taken body and soul direct to Heaven on the back of his horse?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *