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Tunisia's leader denounces foreign criticism of domestic crackdown

1 min

In a strong rebuke to international concerns, Tunisian President Kais Saied has labeled recent criticisms from the European Union, France, and the United States as "unacceptable foreign interference."

Tunisian President Kais Saied © TNP

In a strong rebuke to international concerns, Tunisian President Kais Saied has labeled recent criticisms from the European Union, France, and the United States as "unacceptable foreign interference."

This statement came following a spate of arrests targeting lawyers, journalists, and civil society figures in Tunisia, drawing widespread condemnation from abroad.

Since consolidating power in July 2021 through a series of moves that effectively centralized governmental control, President Saied has faced increasing scrutiny both domestically and internationally. The recent arrests have ignited fears of a rollback on civil liberties in Tunisia, a country once hailed as the birthplace of the Arab Spring.

Among those detained were anti-racist activist Saadia Mosbah and noted lawyer and media commentator Sonia Dahmani. Dahmani was reportedly taken by masked police officers from a building belonging to the Order of Lawyers.

Another lawyer, Mehdi Zagrouba, was also arrested and later hospitalized following an alleged assault in detention that left visible marks of violence and torture.

The United States and the European Union have both expressed concerns about these actions, stating that such behavior contradicts the universal rights guaranteed by the Tunisian constitution. France voiced its apprehension following Dahmani's arrest, noting it occurred amidst a broader pattern of detentions.

In response to the international critique, President Saied ordered the Tunisian Foreign Ministry to summon ambassadors from several countries to protest against what he views as intrusions into Tunisia’s internal affairs. He paralleled his government's actions with those of other nations, citing their handling of protesters who criticized policies deemed unjust.

These developments have alarmed various Tunisian and international NGOs, which see the current situation as a significant regression in the country's human rights record. 

The international community remains watchful, as Tunisia's actions could affect its relationships and agreements, particularly with the European Union, which considers judicial independence and freedom of expression foundational to their partnership.

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