LONDON: The National Syndicate of Tunisian Journalists (SNJT) demanded that Tunisian authorities provide protection for journalists in the country on Monday, after reporter Mohamed Yousfi announced he had received threats from members of the Muslim Brotherhood-associated Ennahda party.
Yousfi reportedly received threats from Ennahda supporters over claims he made during an appearance on Al-Mayadeen television channel earlier this week that members of the movement blackmailed Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi and prevented his resignation.
— قناة الميادين (@AlMayadeenNews) July 22, 2021
Tensions in the North African country rose on Sunday after President Kais Saied suspended Parliament, fired Mechichi and dissolved the government.
Parliament’s speaker, Rached Ghannouchi, the head of Ennahda party, called the president’s move a coup and an “assault on democracy.”
Yousfi announced via his personal Facebook page on Saturday that he had been confined to his house over the weekend “because of serious … and dangerous threats.”
In the post he said he held the president, prime minister, head of the military and the acting minister of the interior responsible for his safety.
In a statement published on its Facebook page, the SNJT said that Yousfi had received “death threats regarding his media statements in which he portrayed the general situation of the country, including the political, health and social crisis,” which had “caused a systematic campaign of incitement, insult and assault against him by electronic accounts and militias working on behalf and for the benefit of political parties supporting the government.”
Saudi Arabia and Egypt have designated the Ennahda party as a terrorist organization.
The SNJT also condemned campaigns of incitement and violence aimed at silencing and intimidating other journalists in Tunisia.
It highlighted in a monthly report that attacks against journalists and photographers in June had increased, with the 18 attacks reported up from 13 incidents in May.
According to Reporters Without Borders, Tunisia ranks 73rd in the world on the 2021 World Press Freedom Index.
Saied’s move to dissolve Parliament comes in response to nationwide protests over the past few days, prompted by Tunisia’s economic, political and health crises.
Over the weekend, hundreds of Tunisians rallied in Tunis and other cities demanding the government step down after a surge in cases of the coronavirus disease COVID-19.
The protests turned violent when police used pepper spray against demonstrators, who threw stones and shouted slogans demanding Mechichi’s resignation.