Generalstaatsanwalt

Bechir Akremi

Court of First Instance

Avenue Beb Bnet

1019 Tunis

TUNESIEN

Emna Chargui

Your Excellency,

On 6 May 2020, Tunisian blogger Emna Chargui was charged with “inciting hatred between religions through hostile means or violence” and "offending authorised religions" under Articles 52 and 53 respectively of the Tunisian press code, which regulates the work of the press in Tunisia, for sharing a text on social media on 2 May  2020 about the COVID-19 pandemic that imitates the format of a Quran verse. She could be imprisoned for up to three years as a result.

The prosecutor initiated the case against Emna based on Article 6 of the 2014 Tunisian constitution which states thatthe state is the guardian of religion and freedom of conscience and belief.” On 4 May, Emna received the summons from the judicial police for investigation.

The following day, the police questioned Emna in the presence of her lawyer. On 6 May, she appeared before the prosecution who refused to allow her lawyers to accompany her. Emna entered the court room alone and reported feeling intimidated with a panel of seven officials at the prosecutor’s office who interrogated her for half an hour including about her religious beliefs. One member of the prosecution even asked her if she had consulted a psychotherapist suggesting that she might be mentally disturbed.

Emna is awaiting a trial on 28 May 2020. After her post went viral, Emna started receiving death threats and calls for rape and other violence against her on social media. Emna told Amnesty International that she was concerned for her safety.

I therefore ask you to drop all charges against Emna Chargui for her social media post which is protected by the right to freedom of expression since it does not incite hatred or violence. I call on you to ensure her protection and open an investigation into the death and other threats that she has received. I finally call on you to amend clauses in the Tunisian law that criminalise the peaceful exercise of the right to freedom of expression.

Yours sincerely,