Tunisian anti-Islamist blogger fined for 'indecency'

AFP , Tuesday 30 Oct 2012

Court fines blogger and activist Sofiane Chourabi for drunkenness and indecency, which he argues aimed at 'intimidating opponents' of Tunisia's Islamist government

A Tunisian court on Tuesday ordered blogger and anti-Islamist activist Sofiane Chourabi to pay a 104 dinar (52 euro/$67) fine for drunkenness and indecency during Ramadan, he told AFP.

Chourabi has accused the Islamist-led government of orchestrating the case against him and, denying any wrongdoing, said he would appeal the decision.

The court ordered Chourabi and his journalist friend Mehdi Jelassi to pay 100 dinars each for indecency and four dinars each for drinking alcohol in public during the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

The two men were arrested at the beginning of August for allegedly drinking alcohol on a beach near Menzel Temime, south of Tunis, and initially faced a six-month jail sentence.

"I will appeal the court's decision because it confirms accusations which I totally reject and deny," Chourabi told AFP.

The blogger, who became a vocal critic of Tunisia's deposed president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and has since his ouster has attacked the ruling Islamist party Ennahda, has denounced the trial as politically motivated and unfair.

"It is an unfair trial, completely made up and baseless. It is about intimidating the opponents of Ennahda's policies," Chourabi said at a hearing in early October.

Chourabi said confessions he gave in August were made "under police pressure."

The trial comes at a time of heightened concerns in Tunisia over freedom of expression, and follows a spate of attacks by hardline Salafist Muslims over the summer on targets deemed un-Islamic.

The case was brought against Chourabi by a man who claimed he was the victim of a "moral offence" because of the alleged incident.

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