Criminal proceedings against the owner of a Tunisian TV station that screened the 2007 animated film Persepolis are an affront to freedom of expression, Amnesty International said ahead of his trial on Monday.
Nabil Karoui, the owner of Nessma TV, faces trial in Tunis on charges of “violating sacred values” and “disturbing the public order” after his station broadcast French film, which has been criticized for being blasphemous because of a scene showing a representation of God.
If convicted, Nabil Karoui faces up to three years in prison.
“Putting Nabil Karoui on trial simply for screening a film which shows fantasy scenes of God is a very troubling development,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s interim director for Middle East and North Africa.
“The Tunisian authorities must uphold Nabil Karoui’s right to freedom of expression and drop these charges immediately,” he said Friday.
Persepolis, an award-winning film on Iran’s 1979 revolution told from the perspective of a young girl, provoked angry reactions when Nessma TV aired it in October.
Karoui’s home was firebombed October 14 following a protest outside the Nessma TV offices in central Tunis. Salafist activists are believed to have carried out the attack.
A complaint by 144 lawyers and others was filed against the TV boss and two other Nessma TV employees.