SHAFAQNA – Tunisia’s audiovisual regulator said on Wednesday it was suspending a television programme for one month for “glorifying terrorism” after a guest boasted of his friendship with a wanted jihadist leader. The regulatory body, HAICA, said it had decided to “suspend the broadcast and repeat of the programme ‘Only For Those Who Dare’ for one month” and ordered the private station Al-Hiwar Attounsi to withdraw it from its website and social media pages. Journalist Nasreddine Ben Hadid said on air that the leader of Tunisian jihadist group Ansar al-Sharia, Seif Allah ben Hassine, also known as Abu Iyad, was his “friend”.
“He is my friend and his friendship honours me,” the journalist said. Ben Hadid is classed as a terrorist by Tunisia and Washington. The programme included a “glorification of terrorism”, HAICA said, adding that it could be an “incitement to violence”. The show’s presenter, Samir al-Wafi, said that he was “shocked” by the decision, telling private radio station Mosaique FM that he had responded to his guest’s statement. However, the regulatory body said in its statement that the programme was pre-recorded, and that the presenter had “provoked” his guest and should have asked him “not to boast about his friendship with Abu Iyad”. Since the 2011 revolt that toppled dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and rippled across much of the Arab world, Tunisia has faced a resurgence in activity by previously suppressed jihadists.