Tunisia: TV Station Chief Sued for Broadcasting “Persepolis”
On May 3 Tunisian courts will announce the verdict in the trial of Nabil Karoui, owner of the private channel Nessma TV, who has been prosecuted for broadcasting the animated film Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi.
Scenes in the film depict God visiting in a dream and appearing in human form. The broadcast created a lot of anger, and a complaint was filed by 144 lawyers and others. The trial was delayed many times, but the verdict will be announced on May 3 – which is World Press Freedom Day. If convicted, Karoui faces up to three years in prison.
Persepolis was broadcast at around the same time that Ennahda won a majority of seats in parliament, and some saw it as a political statement associating Tunisia with Iran, and a warning for Tunisians to “stay moderate and vigilant”.
Nabil Karoui talking to journalists in front of the courthouse in Tunis. Photo by machhad.com (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).
In a blog post entitled “Nessma Trial: Luckily the Ridiculous Doesn't Kill” [fr], blogger and activist Lina Ben Mhenni commented on the trial proceedings:
Maître Raja Haj Mansour a été la première avocate de la partie civile à donner un plaidoyer comique dans lequel elle a expliqué que son fils a fait trois nuits blanches successives après avoir regardé le film “Persepolis” et que c'est lui qui lui a demandé de porter plainte contre Nabil Karoui. Par la suite d'autres avocats ont donné des plaidoyers dignes du Moyen-Age.
Myriam Meziou joked:
@myriammeziou: le fils de Raja mansour a eu une crise car il a vu persepolis!!!! que va-t-il lui arriver qd il regardera son 1er Porno? #nessma
Doctor and politician Zeineb Turki wrote:
@ZeinebTurki: Il est utile de rappeler qu'il ne s'agit pas du procès de #nessma ni de celui de #Persepolis mais celui de la liberté d'expression
From Paris, Anissa B. tweeted:
@beautifultango7: Verdict due today in #Persepolis trial. Key test of freedom of speech in #Tunisia. #NessmaTV
Written by Salah Almhamdi