Amnesty outrage as Tunis trial begins of Nessma TV boss

Rebecca Hawkes ©RapidTVNews | 23-01-2012

The trial of the owner of a private Tunisian TV station which broadcast the French-Iranian film Persepolis resumes on 23 January, despite calls by Amnesty International for criminal proceedings to be dropped.

If convicted of the charges, for "violating sacred values" and "disturbing the public order", Nabil Karoui of Nessma TV faces up to three years in jail.
The award winning animated film Persepolis, about the Iranian revolution of 1979, shows a pictorial representation of God and has, therefore, been called blasphemous by Muslims.
Its transmission by Nessma TV on 7 October 2011 provoked anger and mass protests in Tunis. Karoui's home was firebombed the following week, despite a public apology from the station's boss.
"Putting Nabil Karoui on trial simply for screening a film which shows fantasy scenes of God is a very troubling development," said Philip Luther, interim director for Middle East and North Africa, Amnesty International.
"The Tunisian authorities must uphold Nabil Karoui's right to freedom of expression and drop these charges immediately," he added.
A complaint by almost 144 lawyers was filed against the station's chief and two other Nessma TV employees.
The trial takes place at the Justice Palace in the Kasbah of Tunis, and will be broadcast live by Nessma TV from 9am on Monday 23 January.