The two young men were placed in prison on Tuesday after they were charged with “insulting others through the Internet” and “attributing incorrect matters to a public official” in a video clip of a song posted on TikTok.
On Thursday, two students were released, arrested for publishing a song on social media criticizing the Tunisian police, hours after President Kais Saied denounced the decision to arrest them.
Diaa Naseer (26 years) and Youssef Shalabi (27 years) were arrested on Monday while they were leaving a cafe in the city of Nabeul (northeast), according to lawyer Eman Al-Suisi.
On Thursday, they were released, according to the lawyer.
Before the release decision, Saeed said, “I express my deep astonishment at the arrest of a number of students.”
“I do not interfere in the judiciary, but I do not want anyone in this country to be oppressed,” he added, in a video clip, after his meeting with Prime Minister Naglaa Boden.
Jailed for parody
On Tuesday, the two young men were placed in prison by the Nabeul First Instance Court, pending their appearance, which was scheduled for next Tuesday, before the investigating judge, according to the lawyer.
Saeed considered that “there is absolutely no justification for the arrest of students. What happened is unacceptable, and honorable judges must address such abuses.”
They were charged with “insulting others through the network” and “attributing incorrect matters to a public official” in a video clip of the song posted on the TikTok website.
The two young men appear in the video, chanting lyrics to the tunes of a song for a famous cartoon series, and criticizing the police and the implementation of strict laws prohibiting drug consumption in the country.
The lyrics of the song say, “Once in our neighborhood, the police visited us at night. They pushed the door of the house and turned us to do tests (drug consumption)… I told him (the policeman) to leave us and take two dinars.”
The lawyer said, “The security agents who pursued these students considered that these words violated the police, while it was just a sarcastic song.”
Also, the song denounced the many arrests that young people in Tunisia were subjected to based on this law, which civil society organizations and many non-governmental organizations considered against freedoms.
Chapter 52, which stipulates a penalty of up to ten years in prison for drug use or possession, is the subject of discussions and demonstrations calling for its review and the reduction of prison sentences following the 2011 revolution.
According to official statistics, about 30% of detainees in Tunisia are imprisoned according to this law.