The recent video reportage of Envoyé Spécial, broadcast on French TV channel France 2 on January 17 and entitled “Tunisia, under Salafist Threat,” has stirred discontent among Tunisian internet users, civil society representatives, and media figures.
The episode featured a series of incidents accusing Salafis of presenting a threat to the country’s tourism and stability. The show and journalist behind it, Karim Baila, were criticized for showcasing an exaggerated and falsified image of post-revolutionary Tunisia.
@lucas_roxo: “If you could stop making Salafists believe that they have gained territory” - liberation.fr/monde/2013/01/…” #Envoyéspécial #Tunisie #France2
@TMorofil: I suggest that they rename the #EnvoyéSpécial to [Spatial Envoyé] as it presents a reality coming from another planet…
The video shared on Envoyé Spécial ‘s official Facebook page has received around 2,000 comments and been shared nearly 800 times.
Prominent human rights activist and owner of Radio Kalima Sihem Ben Sedrine stated on her radio that “the image presented of Tunisia is a dark one that does not reflect its reality… The reportage made Tunisia look like a terrorist state, which is not the case.”
President of Islamic proselytizing association “Dawn of Islam,” Taieb Bel Haj Hamida, told Tunisia Live that he is to sue both the journalist and the TV channel for broadcasting that reportage. “I’ve been working on the file, preparing documents with my lawyers, and we will file a complaint tomorrow against the journalist and France 2… We demand indemnity… And maybe the reporter should not be allowed here again,” he added.
Bel Haj Hamida claimed that his team has managed to provide enough evidence that lists the factual inaccuracies in the reporting. The defamation is not related only to the association, but the reputation of the whole country, he argued.
Additionally, several French news outlets criticized the reportage by Envoyé Spécial, such as Liberation, Slate Afrique, and Mediapart.
In the light of concerns raised around security of French citizens in Tunisia, more preventive security measures were taken around the French embassy in Tunis. However, information officer at the embassy, Etienne Chapon, denied that the security measures are related to the row over the Envoyé Spécial reportage. “These measures were taken by the Tunisian authorities, following France’s intervention in Mali… They have nothing to do with the France 2 show,” he confirmed.