On 7 October 2011, the Iranian film ‘Persepolis’ was shown on the Tunisian private television station Nessma TV. The film includes a scene depicting Allah, whose portrayal is forbidden by Islam. On 3 May 2012, the owner of Nessma TV was fined US$ 1,700 for the airing of the film.
On 8 October 2011, a demonstration formed and marched on the station, and a few days later, about 150 Muslim radicals torched the house of the owner of the station, Nabil Karoui, with firebombs. After briefly fleeing to France, Nabil Karoui and his family now live protected by bodyguards.
Nabil Karoui was charged with “violating sacred values” and “disturbing the public order”. On 3 May 2012, he was found guilty. Broadcasting the Iranian film ‘Persepolis’ was to cost the Tunis-based satellite tv-broadcaster a fine of of 2,400 dinars (US$ 1,700).
The court ruling ended a long legal battle which was widely seen as a landmark test of freedom of expression in the country that triggered the Arab Spring.
Variety – 12 May 2012:
Censorship chills Arab Spring
Tunisia, Egypt players navigate fundamentalist politics. By Nick Vivarelli
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