Tunisia questions journalist ‘friend’ of terror leader

Nasreddine Ben Hadid told a talk show that he was ‘honored’ by his friendship with a terror leader

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Tunisian authorities on Thursday questioned a journalist after he told a television show that he was “honored” by his friendship with leader of Ansar al-Sharia terrorist group Abu Ayadh, Tunisian media reported.

Nasreddine Ben Hadid made the statement during a talk show aired on el-Hiwar Ettounissi TV on Sunday.

He spoke about his “friendship” with the wanted leader of the ultra-conservative group, Ansar al-Shariah, Seif Allah ben Hassine, more commonly known as Abu Ayadh.

“Abu Ayadh is my friend and I am honored by this friendship,” Ben Hadid told the show.

The Independent High Authority for Audiovisual Communication (French: HAICA) later ordered the suspension of the talk show, known as Liman Yajroo Faqat (“Only for those who Dare”).

The media regulatory body said the show “glorified terrorism and therefore incited violence.”

It accused the show’s host, Samir al-Wafi, of “provoking” Ben Hadid to say that he was a friend of the terrorist leader.

HAICA also asked the show’s team to remove the episode from the channel’s website and all of its social media pages.

Wafi expressed “shock and anger” at HAICA’s decision, in a statement posted on his Facebook page.

“We had a meeting with HAICA in which we convinced the committee that we are not responsible [for the comments]…and we were asked to explain what happened in the beginning of our next episode,” he said.

“But we were shocked to learn the next morning of the decision to ban the show. This is a blow to freedom of expression,” he added.

The ban of the popular talk show comes two weeks ahead of the country parliamentary elections, the second since the 2011 revolution.

Tunisia classifies Ansar al-Shariah as a terrorist group following the attacks on an American school and on the U.S. embassy in Tunisia in 2012.

The group is also believed to be responsible for the assassination of two leftist political leaders Chokri Belaid and Mohammad Brahmi in 2013, and for the ongoing violent clashes with the national army on Mount Chaanbi near the Tunisian-Algerian border.

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