The Manouba-based headquarters of privately Tunisian owned TV network, Elhiwar Ettounsi (Tunisian Dialogue), were attacked early Sunday morning.
Taher Ben Hassine, the channel’s chief, told Radio Mosaïque FM that the attackers “vandalised everything”. He said:
History is repeating itself; Ben Ali thugs attacked our headquarters, and burned computers. We elected a national constituent assembly, to protect people, draft a new constitution, and improve the country’s situation, but the situation now is even worse…
Elhiwar Ettounsi was launched in 2003, and succeeded in broadcasting for a few hours per week despite the Ben Ali regime’s tight control over the media sector. Like any other independent media during that era, the channel faced censorship and financial restrictions.
According to a report released by the station, the attackers also stole video recording equipment and laptops. The station condemned the attack as “a subjugation attempt” — but did not make any specific accusations — opting instead to await the results of police investigations.
“We, Elhiwar Ettounsi channel team, do not accuse any party, and we believe that law which is above all, will take the course of justice” the channel said in a statement made on their official Facebook page.
Some have speculated that members of Tunisia’s hardline Islamist Salafis might be responsible for the attacks. National Syndicate for Tunisian Journalists (SNJT) board member Zied Heni pointed out to Radio Mosaïque FM that the attacks “took place following the channel’s broadcast of reports illustrating Salafi groups committing crimes. Elhwiar Ettounsi was among few media outlets to report on such crimes”.