Tunisia orders probe into photo of youth trampling Koran

Published September 26, 2013

| AFP

Tunisia's Islamist-led government said Thursday it had ordered a probe and contacted Interpol after a young Tunisian living abroad posted a photo of himself on the Internet trampling on the Koran.

The interior ministry said a preliminary inquiry found that the photo, published on social networking sites, was taken "by a young Tunisian under 20 years old living in a European country."

"Coordination with the public prosecutor was immediately established, a judicial inquiry on the subject opened and Interpol informed so that the necessary measures are taken," it added.

The ministry did not identify the young man or say what European country he might be living in, nor did it say what Tunisia had asked of Interpol.

Tunisia has no laws criminalising blasphemy or sacrilege as such, but the judiciary has previously resorted to charges such as disturbing public order to prosecute people accused of attacking Islamic values.

Jabeur Mejri, a militant young atheist, was sentenced in March 2012 to seven and a half years in jail for "publishing works likely to disturb public order" and "offending public decency," after publishing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.

His co-defendant Ghazi Beji, who received the same sentence in absentia, had fled to France, where he was granted asylum.

And in September last year, a US-made film mocking Islam that was published on the Internet triggered a wave of violent protests, with hundreds of angry Islamists storming the US embassy in Tunis, in an attack that left four of the assailants dead.

Critics of Tunisia's ruling Islamist party Ennahda, which heads the coalition government, have repeatedly accused it of seeking to Islamise society, failing to rein in extremists and using religion to stifle freedom of expression.

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