Attacks against Tunisian journalists on the rise


In its annual report published on World Press Freedom Day (3 May), the National Syndicate for Tunisian Journalists (SNJT) announced that it had registered 60 physical assaults against journalists over the last year.

The syndicate criticised the “passivity and silence of the government” in response to the alarming increase in the number of assaults.

Multiple assaults were recorded in April alone. The most recent act of violence recorded took place on 30 April, when militants belonging to the Ennahda Movement, assaulted a journalist working for the collective blog Nawaat.

Ennahda is the largest party in Tunisia’s governing alliance and Emine M’tiraoui was attacked while he was at the headquarters of the party, after he conducted an interview with a party member.

In testimony published on, M’tiraoui said:

at the lobby of the party’s headquarters there was a fight and a woman was screaming. I had my camera with me, and it seems that my assaulters thought that I was filming what was going on. Though I had my press card, with my name and the name of Nawaat on it, a young militant in the movement circulated that I was “a leftist dog, and a police officer loyal to one of Tunisia’s leftist figures.

The attack continued outside the party’s headquarters. “Outside I fell to the ground…there were police officers who witnessed the assaults but they did not interfere to stop [it]” he told Index.

In less than a month M’tiraoui has been assaulted twice. On 9 April, militants of another prominent political party in Tunisia, the Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) beat him while he was covering the party’s conference.

According to the estimates from Aymen Rezgui, member of the press syndicate’s executive board, one assault is registered every week. This increase in the number of assaults is due to “police’s laxity, and to the attempts of a number of political parties to incite public opinion against journalists,” Rezgui explains.

Leaders of Ennahda, which heads the three-party coalition government, have often expressed their dissatisfaction with the media’s coverage of the government. In an interview with Radio Express FM on 25 April, Rached Ghannouchi, Ennahda’s president, accused state television station, Wataniya 1 of having “an anti revolutionary and biased editorial line which rejoices at the defeat of the legitimate government”.

“There is a clear hostility towards the government” he added.

The SNJT, on the other hand, accuses the government of seeking to tighten control over the media sector. In its report the SNJT denounced attempts to force “the media sector to follow the political vision of the government”.