First Published: 2014-05-21

Tunisia atheist activist back in prison after presidential pardon
Mejri receives same sentence handed down by court of first instance in April for insulting public official.
Middle East Online

Apparent desire to keep Jabeur in prison at all costs

TUNIS - A young Tunisian freed in March after two years in prison for posting cartoons deemed insulting to Islam, saw his eight-month sentence on a separate charge confirmed on appeal Wednesday.

Jabeur Mejri received the same sentence handed down by the court of first instance in April for insulting a public official, his lawyer Ahmed Mselmi said.

Mejri, an atheist activist, was jailed in 2012 for seven and half years for posting caricatures of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed, but walked free in March after receiving a presidential pardon.

He was detained six weeks later for insulting a court official over the date of a summons for him to appear before the investigating judge.

His support committee on Wednesday slammed what they called "judicial harassment".

"It's clear... that there is a desire not to accept the presidential pardon and to keep Jabeur in prison at all costs, to make him pay dearly for his freedom of expression and deter him from any further attempts," the group said in a statement.

The unemployed activist from Mahdia, south of Tunis, had originally been jailed in March 2012 for publishing the controversial drawings, but President Moncef Marzouki decided to pardon Mejri in February.

He was released two weeks later, but only after other charges against him emerged involving embezzlement and dating back to the time when Mejri worked for the Tunisian railways -- well before his imprisonment for posting the cartoons -- charges that are still being investigated.

Amnesty International called him the first prisoner of conscience in Tunisia following the 2011 uprising that ousted veteran strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Muslim extremists who were persecuted under Ben Ali's regime have enjoyed a resurgence since the revolution, and were blamed for numerous acts of violence against targets deemed "un-Islamic" when the government led by moderate Islamist party Ennahda was in power.

 

Britain raises terror alert, deploys troops after concert massacre

Qatar probes state news agency hack

Bahrain police open fire on Shiite protest, kill five

Turkey arrests hunger strikers on terror charges

Faz3a, a local NGO mobilising young people to help Mosul refugees

IS suicide bomber kills five in Somalia

Israel uneasy over 'crazy' regional arms race

Algeria president replaces Prime Minister

16 civilians dead in coalition strikes near Raqa

4 arrested in Tunisia anti-corruption drive

German MPs call off Turkey visit as tensions fester

Palestinian hunger strike row draws solidarity, controversy

At least 20 migrants killed in Mediterranean

Israeli joy at Trump visit lacks substance

Oman evacuates Australian man from Yemen

Jewish extremists ejected from Aqsa mosque compound

Prominent Egypt rights lawyer detained

Oil producers to extend output curbs at OPEC meeting

NATO aims to break Turkey-Austria partnership deadlock

Tunisia tensions simmer after protester's death

Terrorist bomb attack kills 22 at UK pop concert

Bahrain police raid Shiite sit-in killing one protester

Trump says Israelis, Palestinians ‘can make a deal’

Five dead in Syria car bomb attacks

Syria civilians suffer deadliest month of US-led strikes

US forces raid Al-Qaeda in Yemen, kill seven jihadists

Islamists to join Algeria cabinet despite poor results

Tunisia's 2.1% GDP growth marks economic upturn

Trump meets Palestinian leader in Bethlehem

Istanbul demolishes nightclub targeted in New Year attack

WHO says 315 cholera deaths in Yemen in under one month

Trump seeks Israeli-Palestinian peace, lashes out at Iran again

Tunisia police use tear gas on protesters

Palestinians protest for hunger-striking prisoners

GCC and Arab League call for Yemen unity

Turkey's alleged coup ringleaders stand trial

Iran’s reformists sweep to power across major cities

Israel makes concessions to Palestinians 'at Trump's request'

Ivanka hales Saudi progress on women’s rights

Looming showdown between Egypt’s president, judges

Netanyahu says will discuss peace efforts with Trump

Bahrain sentences Shiite cleric to suspended jail term

Trump scandals no issue for Saudi says minister

Saudi women celebrate easing of guardianship system, call for more freedoms

Hamas sentences three to death for commander assassination