Tunisia urged to drop charges over “Persepolis”

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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.

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