Dozens of journalists protested in Tunis on Wednesday, accusing the Islamist-led government of seeking to take control of a press group, after the appointment of a controversial new director.
Journalists from Tunisian dailies Essabah and Le Temps had called for the demonstration outside the government headquarters, where the protesters gathered, chanting slogans calling for a free press and criticising the ruling Islamist party.
"Ennahda wants to put the media under its wing," and "Don't touch the public media!" read some of the placards held at the protest.
The two newspapers belong to the Dar Assabah press group, which the Tunisian state took control of after the revolution last year that toppled former strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
Editorial staff at the press group are angry at the recent appointment of its new director Lotfi Touati, former editor in chief of a rival publication they consider too close to Ennahda. Critics have also described Touati as a former propagandist of Ben Ali.
The Tunisian national journalists' union (SNJT) have expressed their support for the protesters, complaining that the government has replaced the directors of numerous public media without consulting their journalists and staff.
The SNJT is planning a general assembly meeting on Friday and is expected to call for a national strike for journalists.
Television presenter Elyes Gharbi, who was sacked by the authorities as the head of radio station Shems FM in February, believes Ennahda is trying to bring the media under its control.
"We really are facing a strategy aimed at curtailing freedom, and the freedom of expression in particular," he told AFP.
The Tunisian government has been criticised in recent months for attacking the freedom of the press.
Source : AFP