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‘Blacklist’ of former pro-Tunisian regime journalists sparks controversy

Supporters of ‘The Black Book’ say it exposes media figures under Ben Ali’s regime, while critics say the book violates state principles

Published: Updated:

A pro-government Tunisian television channel has presented a book containing a list of Tunisian journalists who allegedly supported the regime of overthrown President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Al-Mutawasset, a TV channel which is close to the ruling Ennahda party in Tunisia, presented the as-yet unreleased book, entitled “The propaganda apparatus under Ben Ali: The Black Book,” which was produced by the Tunisian president’s office.

Supporters of the book say that it “exposes” journalists under Ben Ali’s regime, while its opponents claim it replaces the role of the judiciary and follows the principles of selective justice.

Additionally, critics say the president does not have the right to examine state archives without judiciary control.

The book serves as an important tool in exposing the complicated media structures that existed under Ben Ali’s regime, Saleh al-Attiya, the journalist who presented the book on the Tunisian channel told Al Arabiya News.

State principles

Some of the journalists who “served” the past regime oppose the present Ennahda-led government, Attiya said.

The Tunisian presidency violated state principles in accessing archives, which should not be used to settle scores with individuals under Ben Ali’s regime, Sufian bin Farhat, editor-in-chief of French-language newspaper La Presse told Al Arabiya News.

Farhat stressed that publishing a book will further intensify the tension between the journalists and a government that seeks to take control of the media.

Ayoub al-Massoudi, a former adviser to Tunisia’s current president, Moncef Marzouki, posted on his blog and Facebook pages that Marzouki that the archives contain extensive records on journalists and media personalities.

“This information wasn’t revealed to the public, but ‘The Black Book’ will be used a winning card at the right time,” said Massoudi.