Tunisian President: We Refuse to Throw People in Jail for their Opinions

Tunisians block a street during a demonstration in Tunis on May 24, 2024. (Photo by Sofiene HAMDAOUI / AFP)
Tunisians block a street during a demonstration in Tunis on May 24, 2024. (Photo by Sofiene HAMDAOUI / AFP)
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Tunisian President: We Refuse to Throw People in Jail for their Opinions

Tunisians block a street during a demonstration in Tunis on May 24, 2024. (Photo by Sofiene HAMDAOUI / AFP)
Tunisians block a street during a demonstration in Tunis on May 24, 2024. (Photo by Sofiene HAMDAOUI / AFP)

Tunisian President Kais Saïed said he refuses to throw people in jail for their opinions, adding that the freedom of expression is enshrined in the country's charter.
During a meeting on Friday with Justice Minister Leila Jaffel, the President said, “I am fully opposed to throwing people in jail for their opinions and this is guaranteed by law, even more than in other countries”.
He said the protection of rights and freedoms is an “irreversible choice” in Tunisia. However, he rejected any foreign interference in the country’s affairs.
“We do not tolerate attempts to harm the country and tarnish its image abroad. Any interference in internal affairs is rejected,” he said, adding that Tunisia’s sovereignty is above any consideration.
Hundreds of Tunisians participated in a protest in the capital Tunis on Friday following a series of arrests of lawyers and journalists.
Protesters chanted, “Down with police repression”, “No fear, the streets are the people's.” They also raised signs that read: “No sovereignty without freedom.”
The protesters denounced what they call the “systematic crackdown on freedom of expression and public freedoms in the country.” They demanded the repeal of Decree 54 of 2022, on the fight against cybercrime.
Two Tunisian media figures received one-year jail sentences last Wednesday after making comments the authorities deemed critical, in the latest prosecutions under Decree 54, a 2022 ban on spreading false news.
Civil society activist Hind Al-Shawish said the march was organized by activists known for their defense of the revolution.
She said the march “expresses our anger and protest against the regime of President Saeid, which has threatened the Tunisian people, suppressed freedoms of expression, and further crippled the economic situation.”
For his part, political activist Ziad Makhlouf demanded the withdrawal of Decree 54, which was approved by President Saeid. “The basic principles of this march call for diversity and the freedom of expression and organization,” he said.

 



Hezbollah Fires New Barrage at Israel, Which Vows to Hit Back

Hezbollah members take part in a military exercise during a media tour organized for the occasion of Resistance and Liberation Day, in Aaramta, Lebanon, May 21, 2023. (Reuters)
Hezbollah members take part in a military exercise during a media tour organized for the occasion of Resistance and Liberation Day, in Aaramta, Lebanon, May 21, 2023. (Reuters)
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Hezbollah Fires New Barrage at Israel, Which Vows to Hit Back

Hezbollah members take part in a military exercise during a media tour organized for the occasion of Resistance and Liberation Day, in Aaramta, Lebanon, May 21, 2023. (Reuters)
Hezbollah members take part in a military exercise during a media tour organized for the occasion of Resistance and Liberation Day, in Aaramta, Lebanon, May 21, 2023. (Reuters)

Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah group said it fired a new wave of rockets and drones at the Israeli army on Thursday, after an Israeli strike killed one of its senior commanders, AFP reported.
It was Hezbollah’s largest simultaneous attack in near-daily cross-border fire between it and the Israeli army since its ally Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel triggered the Gaza war.
Hezbollah fighters launched “an attack with rockets and drones, targeting six barracks and military sites” while simultaneously flying “squadrons of explosive-laden drones” at three other Israeli bases, the group said in a statement.
One of the targets included an Israeli base that Hezbollah said housed an intelligence headquarters “responsible for the assassinations.”
Hezbollah said the attacks were “part of the response to the assassination” of Hezbollah commander Taleb Abdallah on Tuesday.
The Israeli army said about “40 projectiles were launched toward the Galilee and Golan Heights area,” adding most were intercepted while others ignited fires.
The Israeli government vowed to respond strongly to all Hezbollah attacks.
“Israel will respond with force to all aggressions by Hezbollah,” government spokesman David Mencer said during a press briefing.
“Whether through diplomatic efforts or otherwise, Israel will restore security on our northern border,” he added.
In recent weeks, cross-border exchanges have escalated, with Hezbollah stepping up its use of drones to attack Israeli military positions and Israel hitting back with targeted strikes against the militants.
On Wednesday, top Hezbollah official Hashem Safieddine vowed the group would “increase the intensity, strength, quantity and quality of our attacks,” while speaking at Abdallah’s funeral.
The Israeli army confirmed it carried out the strike that “eliminated” Abdallah on Tuesday, describing him as “one of Hezbollah’s most senior commanders in southern Lebanon.”
A Lebanese military source said he was the “most important” Hezbollah commander to have been killed since the start of the war.
The cross-border violence has killed at least 468 people in Lebanon, most of them fighters but also including 89 civilians, according to an AFP tally.
Israeli authorities say at least 15 Israeli soldiers and 11 civilians have been killed.