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Al Jazeera Net blocked

(ANHRI/IFEX) - Tunisia received three major blows on 25 October 2009, says the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI).

First, the control of president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali on the reins of power in Tunisia was reaffirmed for a fifth term, ending in 2014, in a formal election whose results were prepared and known in advance.

Second, the victory ensures that the measures taken by Ben Ali to hold onto power for 27 years will continue to inhibit democracy for another five.

And finally, Tunisian citizens were deprived of one of their most important information sources, Al-Jazeera Net.

Although Ben Ali's victory and the continuing blatant violations of human rights were expected, the blocking of the Al-Jazeera Net website ( http://www.aljazeera.net/Portal ) on the same day Ben Ali became president for the fifth time is a blow to Tunisians' rights to access true and accurate information and makes them easy prey for the official media with its lack of independence or plurality of opinion.

The blocking of Al-Jazeera Net comes a few days after the blocking of the My Portail news site ( http://www.myportail.com ), after both sites published reviews of the new French book, "The Regent of Carthage", which looks at the dominance of President Ben Ali's wife and her family over Tunisia over the past few years.

"It is difficult to imagine Tunisian citizens under the influence of media all speaking with one voice and expressing one opinion," said ANHRI. "The only difference Tunisian citizens will see are the new faces that advocate this one opinion, faces of Tunisian or Egyptian or Lebanese or Jordanian journalists who have abandoned journalistic ethics in favour of a despotic regime."

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