Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns today's closure of Al Jazeera's Tunis bureau in a raid by police and calls on the Tunisian authorities to respect press freedom and media pluralism.
Police stormed into the Qatari TV news channel's Tunis bureau this morning and forced its journalists to stop working at once. Bureau chief Lotfi Hajji said around 20 mainly plainclothes policemen ordered them to turn off their mobile phones and, after confiscating the keys to the premises, made them all leave.
"We condemn the closure of Al Jazeera's Tunis bureau by police the day after an announcement by President Kais Saied started a political crisis in Tunisia, and we urge the authorities to respect press freedom and pluralism," said Souhaieb Khayati, the head of RSF's North Africa desk. "We request the immediate reopening of the bureau and for its journalists to be allowed to resume working normally."
Today's raid came one day after President Saied dismissed Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi and suspended parliament. His announcement firing the prime minister and "freezing" parliament's activities for 30 days came after a day of anti-government protests in many Tunisian cities. Police deployed outside parliament denied access to the building. Today saw clashes with demonstrators outside parliament.
Tunisia is ranked 73rd out of 180 countries in RSF's 2021 World Press Freedom Index.