Bloggers Intifada In Solidarity With Fatma

Alaa Kamal
9/11/2009
Reporters Without Borders, “Mohammed Abu Allan” blog and “ freedom to the blogger Rafat Al-Ghanim” blog  said that the Tunisian authorities stopped early November 2009, the  professor of theater and blogger Fatima Riahi owner of the blog “Fatma Arabica” pending investigation on charges of "slander" . A statement of RWB  stated that  the police called in the known blogger “Fatima Arabica” on 2/11/2009 and she was released at  the night of the same day. Two days later,she was called in again   and detained pending investigation . The statement added that the date set for hearing in the case was 9/11/2009. It is not clear whether the trial will be conducted as per the criminal  or journalism laws.
 And legally, anti-crime  force is entitled  to keep the accused in detention for six days at the most, to be presented to court. The statement  said that "the authorities have resorted to such arrests to reveal the identity of bloggers who use pseudonyms," calling to "release Fatma immediately". Fatma , 34 years ,has not been able to meet her lawyer, Leila Ben a bear, except for only three minutes.
 The Tunisian authorities suspect that the detainee, who blocked her blog  ten days ago, before finally deleting all content is the same Tunisian blogger known as “Zed”, who often publishes caricatures of the political ,social ,human rights and economic situations  in Tunisia in the famous blog  "Debat Tunisie". The blogger "Zed" refuted being  "Fatma Arabica", Zed published recent pictures immediately after the arrest to express “absolute support for a colleague," and prove  it is someone  else who publishes those cartoons. .
Condemning reactions swept the net,  turning it to public opinion case. Fatma’s friends expressed  shock as  her writings, " did not exceed the red lines". Klndestino, a blogger, said "truly we did not expect  detaining Fatma .. especially that she did not write what may cause trouble. After frequent piracy and blocking, we, bloggers, have gained  experience in dealing with the censorship. We are well aware of the reactions of censors  .. and what can lead  to  detention, therefore many  decided on silence”.
The blogger ‘Bent ailla” said, "Arrest of Fatma was a  shock to me , still in disbelief. We are used to blocking and  most boggers have been writing  peacefully, denouncing with a sense of humor and sarcasm that never turn to incitement the government.
Many of us maneuver to deliver the message in a comic non specific way. A group of bloggers create a special page on “ Facebook ", titled" Freedom of Fatma ARABICA ". The number of subscribers reached near 1500, mostly  young bloggers from Egypt, Morocco, Jordan and France, and a blog was created for follow up on the news of the trial of "Arabica."
    It is worth mentioning that Tunisia bloggers have not yet formed a structure representing them on the virtual space as well as the case for many Arab countries , like the experience of the "Union of Libyan bloggers" and "Union of Algerian bloggers" and another for Egyptians  which is still under construction.
  The Tunisian blogger and journalist Sufian Chourabi said: "We believe that unity that evolved during the solidarity campaign with  Fatma  reveals the capabilities of bloggers to defend themselves to stand for big causes. There are more ideas for this union , which will not only be eligible to issuing statements, but there are many other expected roles of the union that will be defined according to the conditions of freedoms in the country ”.
The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information strongly condemned  the detention of Fatma . ANHRI condemned the continuing repression in Tunisia and  threatening security and the persecutions for bloggers and activists.
 ANHRI stated that the detention of Fatima is a "black spot added to  Tunisia's poor human rights record ". ANHRI executive director of the network called for solidarity with Fatma in every way possible through the internet or by sending  faxes and e-mails to the Tunisian authorities and officials to demand the stop of prosecution, and the release of all prisoners of opinion and freedom of expression in Tunisia.