TUNIS May 3 The United States expressed concern
on Thursday at a Tunisian court's ruling against a television
station owner in a blasphemy row, saying it raised concerns
about free expression after last year's revolution ousted
President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.
Nabil Karoui, head of private television station Nessma, was
fined 2,400 dinars ($1,550) for broadcasting the award-winning
animated film "Persepolis" which, the court found, was an attack
on moral values and a risk to public order.
"I am concerned and disappointed by this conviction for
Nessma television's broadcast of an animated film previously
approved for distribution by the Tunisian government," U.S.
ambassador Gordon Gray said in a statement.
"His conviction raises serious concerns about tolerance and
freedom of expression in the new Tunisia. We understand that Mr.
Karoui has the right to appeal his conviction, and we hope this
case will be resolved in a manner which guarantees free
expression, a basic right denied to Tunisians during the Ben Ali
The film, about a girl growing up in Iran, includes a scene
depicting God, which is forbidden in Islam. Its airing outraged
some conservative Salafi Islamists who attacked the station.
Karoui was subsequently sued by private citizens.
(Reporting by Tarek Amara; Writing by Lin Noueihed; Editing by