Tunisian will free jailed Prophet cartoonist
06 November 2013, 18:35
Paris - Tunisia's president Moncef Marzouki said on Wednesday
he would free a young Tunisian man jailed last year for posting cartoons of the
Prophet Mohammed online once tensions in the country had eased.
Jabbeur Mejri was sentenced at a closed hearing in March
2012 to seven and half years in jail for posting caricatures of the Prophet on
his Facebook page.
He petitioned the president for a pardon earlier this year,
saying he regretted his actions.
"I will have him freed. I am just waiting for the
political situation to calm down," Marzouki said in an interview with
French radio station France Info.
"There are currently huge tensions, there is the fight
against terrorism," he said.
"But I will free him, I am simply waiting for the right
window of opportunity both for his security and for the security of the
Mejri and his co-defendant Ghazi Beji, both unemployed and
militant atheists, were charged with "publishing works likely to disturb
public order" and "offence to public decency".
Beji fled abroad and was given asylum in France in June this
The case stirred up controversy in Tunisia, with secular
opposition groups and human rights activists arguing that the defendants were
convicted for a "crime of conscience".
Tunisia has been mired in political stalemate after the
assassination of two prominent opposition leaders by suspected jihadists
earlier this year.
Critics of the Islamist party Ennahda, which heads the
coalition government, have repeatedly accused it of seeking to Islamise society
and of using religion to stifle freedom of expression.