July 14, 2020 / 3:10 PM / 23 days ago

Tunisia sentences woman to six months for Koranic Facebook joke

TUNIS (Reuters) - A Tunisian court has sentenced blogger Emna Chargui to six months in prison and a $700 fine for reposting a Facebook joke about the coronavirus written as if it was a Koranic verse.

“This is unfair and unjust ... this proves that there is no freedom here,” Chargui, 27, told Reuters from home where she had been waiting for the ruling.

She plans to appeal as allowed within 10 days.

Chargui’s sharing of the post in May angered some conservative social media users who demanded punishment in a nation periodically polarised between secular and Islamist political wings since a revolution that introduced democracy nine years ago.

Court spokesman Mohsen Dali said the sentence was on charges of inciting hate between religions and races.

The case has brought criticism from rights groups.

Saying she was a victim of a “repressive law” that curtailed free speech, Amnesty International said the prosecution did not allow Chargui’s lawyer to accompany her to court, where she was asked about her religious beliefs and mental condition.

Chargui blogs on freedom and women’s issues.

Reporting by Tarek Amara; Writing by Angus McDowall; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne

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