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‘Censorship on the Rise’: Tunisia’s President Summons State-tv Ceo Over Editorial Line

In Tunisia, the national syndicate of journalists (SNJT) is warning of the rising censorship of media after President Saied publicly scolded the CEO of national television in a first in the country’s post-revolution history.

“The intervention carried out by the President of the Republic falls within a complete context of censorship of the public media and advocacy and striking the principle of pluralism, diversity and objectivity,” wrote the syndicate in a press release on Friday.

On Friday, President Kais Saied summoned Awatef Dalystate, the CEO of the state television, to complain about the “not innocent” order of the news bulletin and specific programs he disapproves of their contents.

For over six minutes, the Tunisian President complained mainly about a program named “the beautiful age,” which he said he watched recently by coincidence.

“Which beautiful age you are talking about. If it were beautiful, we would not be here,” he said, suggesting other editorial themes, more focused on the 2011 revolution and not the past in his words.

Meanwhile, the CEO Awatef Daly, appointed two years ago in the position, sat silently, seemingly confused during Saied’s monologue.

Daly has been in charge of the interim management of the state-owned television since Saied dismissed on July 28, 2021, the former CEO Mohamed Lassaâd Dehech – three days after the President seized all extraordinary powers and ruled by decree.

Independent media and the SNJT have accused Awatef Daly on many occasions of turning Tunisia’s national television into the spokesperson for power and harassing journalists who speak against Saied’s authority.

Over social media, several users pointed out Saied’s tendency to appoint women in key positions to do “his dirty work” before turning against them.

Last week, President Saied fired Prime Minister Najla Bouden without an official explanation. 

Many Tunisians do not believe that Bouden was ever in charge, arguing that she was merely a facade to legitimise and pinkwash his authority.

Once Saied’s protégé, today Daly may face Bouden’s faith.

Tunisian media have long denounced attacks on freedom of the press and information since Saied’s power grab two years ago.

Under Saied’s authority, journalists have been brought to justice and sentenced to unprecedented prison. 

“Since July 25, 2021, the national TV has been banishing the dissenting or critical opinion of the authority and providing great services to the authority,” added the SNJT in its press release calling on Saied to respect the independence of the media.

Since its establishment in 1963, Tunisian TV has been under pressure from the country’s leaders; only after the revolution did the new system vow to liberate it and dedicate its content to the Tunisians’ worries.

But with over a dozen CEOs who have succeeded since 2011, the Tunisian public channel has yet to be independent.

Source: The New Arab