Tunisian newspapers strike over government clampdown
Staff at two Tunisian newspapers held strikes on Tuesday protesting a government clampdown on freedom of expression, as the country’s media accuses authorities of tightening their grip on the press.
French-language daily Le Temps and Arabic-language Essabah held a day-long strike after talks broke down between unions and the government, led by the Islamist al-Nahda party.
“We are striking to defend our right to freedom of expression and the right of the Tunisian people to receiving reliable information,” unionist and journalist Sana Farhat told AFP.
Newspaper unions pushed the strike after suspending negotiations with the government on Monday, during which there had been a lack of progress on the media crisis.
“The government showed no willingness to go back on its recent appointment of controversial figures at the top of some media establishments,” said Nejiba Hamrouni, president of the National Union of Tunisian Journalists (SNJT).
Journalists have protested the government’s appointment of a new director, Lotfi Touati, to the Dar Assabah press group, which owns Le Temps and Essabah, considering him too close to al-Nahda.
AFP tried to reach Touati by telephone, but was told he was out of his office.
International NGOs have criticized the Tunis government for seeking to manipulate the media, including by appointing new directors to head public media groups without consulting their staff.
The government wants to “bring editorials in line with its propaganda ahead of the next elections,” said Farhat, referring to general elections due in 2013.
Elections in 2011 which followed the ouster of former western-backed dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in a popular uprising propelled the Islamists to power.
- Tunisia: Al-Nahda’s Failures Lead Sidi Bouzid to Rise Again (alethonews.wordpress.com)
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