July 16, 2024

Omrane, who was briefly detained and questioned, is well known for publishing satirical cartoons featuring politicians.

Tunisian cartoonist Tawfiq Omrane will appear in court next week after he was detained for hours over drawings mocking the prime minister.

Omrane was already well known in the North African country for publishing satirical cartoons featuring President Kais Saied, who entrenched himself in power two years ago after he shut down Tunisia’s elected parliament in a move that the opposition described as a coup.

But the 64-year-old cartoonist was arrested on Thursday afternoon outside his home in southern Tunis, according to his lawyers.

“They interrogated me on suspicion of insulting the prime minister. They showed a drawing that they considered offensive,” Omrane told Tunisian radio channel Diwan FM on Friday.

Omrane pledged that he would continue his satirical drawings.

“My father was released at 02:30am (01:30 GMT), but must appear before the Tunis Court of First Instance on September 25,” his daughter Aya said on Friday.

“The police interrogated him for hours without the presence of lawyers on suspicion of insulting through social networks … over cartoons mocking the prime minister,” his lawyer, Anas Kadoussi, said.

Potential prison term

Kadoussi said the cartoonist could face one year in prison if convicted. There was no immediate comment from the authorities over the arrest.

Ahmed al-Hachani is the prime minister, appointed last month to replace Najla Bouden.

Many Tunisians see free speech as a principal reform won after the 2011 revolution that toppled dictatorial President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Activists, journalists and politicians have warned that freedom is under threat, if not already gone.

“Omrane’s arrest reinforces authorities’ efforts to suppress critical voices of the president,” said Amira Mohamed, a senior official at the country’s journalists’ syndicate.

Saied strongly criticised state TV in a speech this week, including the arrangement of headlines in a bulletin, in a move that the journalists’ syndicate said was “blatant interference”.

Saied rejects accusations of targeting freedoms and has said he will never be a dictator.

But police have detained more than 20 political figures this year, including opposition leader Rached Ghannouchi, head of the Ennahda party, accusing some of plotting against state security.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *