Close

Donate today to keep Global Voices strong!

Watch the video: We Are Global Voices!

We report on 167 countries. We translate in 35 languages. We are Global Voices. Watch the video »

Over 800 of us from all over the world work together to bring you stories that are hard to find by yourself. But we can’t do it alone. Even though most of us are volunteers, we still need your help to support our editors, our technology, outreach and advocacy projects, and our community events.

Donate now »
GlobalVoices in Learn more »

Tunisia: National Day for Freedom of Blogging on November 4

No to Censorship Tunisian bloggers are rallying for a National Day for Freedom of Blogging on November 4. The day will coincide with a court hearing for a lawsuit filed by the journalist and blogger Zied El Heni against the Tunisian Internet Agency (ATI).

It all started when Tunisian internet surfers welcomed with happiness the repeal of a ban placed on video sharing sites YouTube and Dailymotion. Many Tunisian bloggers celebrated this repeal of the ban by posting videos of songs downloaded from those two video websites on their blogs. But their happiness was cut short as the repeal did not last more than 24 hours. Very soon, the Tunisians discovered that there was in fact no repeal of the ban at all. Rather, a problem with the software and filters used by the ATI resulted in its failure to block these two video websites. The repeal of the ban, which had been welcomed with such enthusiasm, was actually just an accident and a mistake.

Meanwhile, journalist and blogger El Heni is suing the ATI for the censorship of Facebook, which had lasted for 16 days. The trial will take place on November 4 and as a sign of solidarity with his action, a group of bloggers decided that this date will henceforth be baptized as a national day for blogging freedom.

Blogger Abunadem, whose blog had been censored more than twice, spearheaded the campaign on Anticensuretounes, collective blog by Tunisian bloggers on anti-censorship. He explains:

بمناسبة القضية اللي رفعها الصحفي و المدون زياد الهاني ضد عمار 404 واللي تعينتلو الجلسة نهار 4 نوفمبر …( وهي القضية نفسها اللي رفعوها اوخيان اخرين ضد حوادث 404 باشي ) ممكن يكون يوم 4 نوفمبر يوم كل مدون لان القضية قضيتو بدرجة اولى …ممكن نعتبروه يوم وطني من اجل حرية التدوين ونساندوا خونا زياد حتى بالصمت العاجز ………من خلال تدوينات بيضاء او بانيار يعلن هذا الحدث .
والى الامام …لنتكاتف ضد عمار .
The journalist and blogger El Heni has sued the ATI and the trial has been set for November 4th 2008. It would be a great idea to announce this day “every blogger's day” because this cause is every blogger's cause. It should also be considered a Tunisian National Day for Blogging Freedom. We can support our brother Zied even by our desperate silence, expressed through a White Blog Day or by a common logo on our blogs signaling this event . Let's go ahead .Let's unite against censorship!!

Writing on the same blog, Bachbouch further explains:

Tunisian blogs became the main supplier of unbiased news for Tunisians living inside and abroad. Blogging became a responsibility and bloggers are now citizens who can create jeopardy to any government agency trying to cover and shadow information that doesn’t project a picture of a stable and democratic, government of a country experiencing a fast economic growth.
That in mind, we decided that, as we took this heavy responsibility on our shoulders, we are entitled to a law that protects us from any abuse and unlawful censorship. This law should also shield us from any unlawful investigation and arrest due to the content of our blogs as long as it doesn’t break any law acknowledged by our constitution. This same law will punish any person or entity that shall intentionally break it.
Zied El Heni’s symbolic law suite against “Tunisian Internet Agency” inspired us to launch our movement and decided to have November 4th, the date of the first hearing, as a National Day For Freedom of Blogging. This movement was immediately embraced by most if not all the Tunisian bloggers who will be the force that fuels and inspires this movement.
We will be reaching out parties of our government soon with all our demands hoping for a great cooperation.

The result is an overwhelming support from bloggers, such as Mayadine, who writes:

للأصدقاء اللي تفاعلو ايجابيا
مع اقتراح ابو ناظم في مدونة : ضد الحجب
في ان يكون يوم 4 نوفمبر من كل عام ، هو
اليوم الوطني لحرية التدوين
مّاله انا بدوري
نتوجّه للجميع بدعوة للانضمام الى هالاقتراح
ليكن يوم 4 نوفمبر يومنا الوطني من اجل ان
ندوّن
نخربش
نكتب
نفكر
نعبّر
نتحاو
نتناقش
نضيف
ننقد
نطلق اجنحة اقلامنا
To the friends who positively responded to Abu Nadhem's proposition in the Anti-censorship in Tunisia blog to set November 4th as the national day for freedom of blogging. I invite to join this campaign so that this day will be our day to blog, scribble, write, think, discuss, comment, criticize and let our pens speak freely.

To support the initiative, Facebook user Bassem Bouguerra created a Facebook group entitled: November 4th: A National Day for Blogging Freedom. Since its launch on October 1, more than 330 members have so far joined the call. This relatively great number can really be considered a great achievement, in a country where people have been raised in fear of speaking out freely. This show of support is also remarkable considering that many people avoid joining groups dealing with matters of freedom of expression and other controversial issues. They fear persecution and jail.

Members on the Facebook group are exchanging ideas about the best methods to overcome censorship and limits on freedom of expression.

Seifeddine Ben Fatthallah, for instance, writes:

“I hope that the trial against ATI will not be only Zied El Heni's trial against ATI but it will be rather the trial of all Tunisians against ATI. It will not be only for internet users. In fact, the problem is larger than it seems to be as it is going beyond all limits. I hope that the information about limits on freedom of expression will reach every Tunisian citizen.”

Hayett Abed explains that Tunisian law guarantees freedom of expression. He notes:

القانون التونسي يضمن حرية التعبير، و التعبير يمكن يكون في جميع وسائل الإعلام المتاحة ، و بما أنو ما فمّاش ما ينص على التدوين في القانون التونسي باعتبارو داخل في تكنولوجيا جديدة، فإن قبول السلطة بإدخال تكنولوجيا الأنترنات وحثها للمواطنين باش يستعملوها و تقديم كل المساعدات للعايلات المتوسطة باش يشريو الحاسوب العايلي و استعمال الأنترنات يعتبر ضمنيا بقبولها لكل ما توفره الأنترنات و امكانية استغلاله من طرف الشعب الكريم

Tunisian law guarantees freedom of expression and this freedom should be through all available means. Because Tunisian law lacks stipulations about blogging and because the Internet is part of new media and modern technologies, the government's approval to introduce such technologies to our countries is equivalent to its approval and acceptance to the use of the different services available on internet, including the different websites and blogs created by internet users.

And while it is really sad to see so many blogs and websites under the TAI's siege, and witness how Tunisia continues to violate freedom of expression while claiming at international gatherings that it is a leader of freedom and human rights, it is inspiring and encouraging to see so many Tunisians voices rising to say No to oppression and barriers on freedom of expression.

World regions

Countries

Languages