Tunisia’s attorney general issued a judicial order yesterday that bans broadcasting a recent interview with Slim Chiboub, an in-law of ousted President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, on Ettounsiya TV.
The decision has sparked widespread controversy throughout Tunisian media and social networks over whether the ban’s motives represented censorship or were strictly based on judicial matters. The government justified the move, stating that Chiboub must go on trial first before he can have the opportunity to speak out on national television.
State-owned news agency TAP stated that Tunisian interim Prime Minister considered the judicial order necessary as the interview might represent “a way of normalizing former regime figures.”
Ettounsiya TV was previously owned by Sami Fehri, who is currently arrested facing corruption charges related to his Cactus Production company. Following the accusations, Ettounsiya TV has been confiscated and is now considered as a state-owned media.
Moez Ben Gharbia, producer and host of the show “Attasiaa Massaa” (9pm), told Tunisia Live that an urgent hearing will take place today at the Court of First Instance in Tunis. Last night, November 22, Ben Gharbia stated in his show that he will make sure the interview is broadcast or posted elsewhere.
Tunisian TV channel Elhiwar Ettounsi posted on their official Facebook page yesterday that they will broadcast the interview, which Ben Gharbia had with Chiboub, given that they are a private TV channel.
However, Tunisian radio Mosaique FM reported today that the interview is banned from being broadcast on all channels, including private ones as well. Elhiwar Ettounsi posted that they will broadcast the interview regardless of the decision.
In social networks such as Twitter, Tunisians expressed their displeasure over the government’s decision to ban Chiboub’s interview.
@IchaouiOns: I will watch the interview of Slim Chiboub only to show solidarity with #ettounsiya and #elhiwar
@Garoun2801: #Ammar404 is back! The interview of Slim Chiboub will not be broadcast tonight on #Ettounsiya #Tunisie #Censorship
Prominent media figure and Ettounsiya TV host Naoufel Ouertani raised the question of media freedom on Mosaique FM radio. He explained that the book of former first lady Leila Ben Ali was not censored in Tunisia. “Aren’t Tunisian citizens free to choose what they watch or believe?” he asked.
5:00 p.m. Tunisian radio Mosaique FM reported that the Court of First Instance in Tunis rejected a judicial order issued by the attorney general to ban the broadcasting of an interview by Moez Ben Gharbia with ousted president’s son-in-law Slim Chiboub. Ben Gharbia, host of the show “Attassiaa Massaa” on Ettounsiya TV, confirmed to Mosaique FM that the interview will be broadcast soon.