Hajlaoui finds himself imprisoned following a complaint filed by a police unit, invoking Article 86 of Ben Ali’s Telecommunications Code and Article 24 of Decree 54. The activist is being prosecuted for posts shared on Facebook between 2020 and 2023. These include comments, texts, and music videos shared on his social media page. Some of these posts criticized Kais Saied‘s approach, while others addressed the repressive tactics of the Interior Ministry and the police apparatus during the Corona pandemic, as well as the crackdown on youth protests under the Mechichi government. In other posts, Houssem expressed his support for journalist Haythem Mekki. Additionally, the activist shared the music video “El-Boulissya kleb” (The Cops are Dogs) by Tunisian rapper Weld El-15.

These posts were evidently under close surveillance, collected by a police unit and presented to the prosecutor, who promptly ordered Houssem Hajlaoui’s imprisonment. It seems the tireless advocate for just causes is now considered a danger to society.

However, in light of recent events, the authorities appear determined to exhume Ben Ali’s repressive laws, coupled with Decree 54, to intimidate the country’s free voices. The hard-won freedom of expression, achieved through the struggles of the Tunisian people, is more threatened than ever, as citizens are once again being arrested, convicted, and imprisoned for their opinions. Meanwhile, the gains of civil society are being called into question.

The regime’s determination to resurrect Ben Ali’s repressive laws and wield the infamous Decree 54 is a grave indicator of its dictatorial ambitions. Nawaat reiterates its total and unconditional support for Houssem Hajlaoui and calls upon all unions and human rights organizations to stand in solidarity with him.

The collusion between the police and the prosecutor in this case is a stark reminder of the erosion of the rule of law in Tunisia. The very institutions meant to protect citizens’ rights have become tools of oppression, wielded by those in power to crush dissent and consolidate their grip on the nation.

As the presidential elections loom, the international community must take notice of these alarming developments. The right to free speech and the freedom of the press are fundamental pillars of any democracy, and their suppression in Tunisia should be a cause for grave concern.

Hajlaoui’s imprisonment is a clarion call for all those who value liberty and justice. His plight symbolizes the struggle of countless Tunisians who dare to speak truth to power, risking their freedom in the pursuit of a more just and democratic society.

In the face of such blatant repression, silence is complicity. The world must raise its voice in solidarity with Houssem Hajlaoui and all those who stand on the frontlines of the battle for freedom of expression in Tunisia.