Thursday, September 21, 2006

Tunisia Bans Le Figaro


As a result of Professor Redeker's article in Le Figaro (see my preceding post), the French newspaper has been banned in Tunisia. Here are excerpts from an article posted at Cyberpresse:

The Tuesday edition of the right-centrist French daily, Le Figaro, has been banned in Tunisia for having published opinions considered as "offensive" to Islam, it was learned on Wednesday from several sources.

The seizure of the September 19 issue of Le Figaro that published an article entitled, "Confronted with Islamist intimidation, what should the free world do?" was announced by Tunisian newspapers and confirmed by an official source.

Several Arab-language dailies and the French-language paper La Presse indicated, in brief identical articles, that the minister of the Interior had, "in accordance with the law", ordered this seizure due to the "injurious and offensive content regarding the prophet, Islam and Muslims.

Normally available early in the evening of the day of publication in France, Le Figaro had disappeared from the kiosks of Tunis on Wednesday.

The ban was issued several days before the start, later this week, of ramadan. This period of fasting, that constitutes one of the five pillars of the Muslim religion, is faithfully observed by a large majority of the 10 million Tunisians.

The article then quotes passages from Redeker's article and discusses the Tunisian reaction to the Pope's speech.

The only reaction in Tunisia to Benedict XVI's remarks came last Saturday from the Superior Islamic Council of the Republic, when it expressed its "profound indignation" at the "injurious remarks" made by the Pope, and stressed the "need to rapidly rectify the situation."

The Council, the supreme religious authority of the country, had emphasized that "Tunisia has always worked toward a spirit of tolerance, dialogue and respect for the sacred symbols of peoples."

The Tunisian authorities, who maintain excellent relations with the Holy See, thus insure a complete freedom of religion and a strict protection of Christian and Jewish religious edifices, all the while fighting energetically against Islamist terrorism and the radical political movements claiming to act on behalf of Islam.

Last February, in accordance with a law protecting religion, they confiscated copies of the newspaper France-Soir that had published the Mohammed cartoons, following the original publication in a Danish paper, and the world-wide Arab-Muslim explosion of protest that ensued.

The next to last paragraph of this article is interesting in that one could interpret Tunisia's relations with the Vatican as a "deal" whereby Tunisia will protect other religions and fight terrorism, provided the Holy See behaves itself. Insofar as the Vatican does not behave itself, we may assume, Tunisia will cease to help the West (if indeed it ever has helped the West). I'm sure I'm being cynical, but the article surreptitiously reveals Tunisia's intolerance, and raises the question of the Vatican's motives in striking such a (presumed) deal.

It is not entirely clear from the article if the ban is limited to the September 19 issue of Le Figaro, or extends over a longer period of time.

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