By Monia Ghanmi
The Tunisian interior ministry has legalised Africa’s first anti-censorship political party. The Tunisian Pirate Party, approved on March 13th, is a branch of the worldwide cyber-activist movement.
“We established our party to gather together all those thirsty for knowledge hampered by barriers put in place by the political authority in the country, and our goal is to bring our people up to the level of developed countries,” spokesman Mohamed Boukoum said in a press statement.
The party consists mainly of bloggers, many of whom were active during the Tunisian revolution and were imprisoned under the former regime. Their goal is to protect the right of more than two million Tunisian internet users to access information without restrictions, according to the party statute.
“The political work of the Pirate Party aspires to provide knowledge for each Tunisian citizen and does not accept trusteeship imposed upon them by dictators, who are still devouring our right to communicate with the developed world and tossing us into the bottom of the sea of backwardness and ignorance. We will thus confront all attempts at censorship and control,” Boukoum said.
The party, however, does not aim to carry out sabotage or piracy, according to the spokesman, but to attract hackers and train them within a framework of freedom, justice and equality.
One of the party founders and most prominent members, Slim Amamou, confirmed that the group did not intend to perpetrate piracy attacks on websites.
“The ideology of this party is freedom and use of the internet as infrastructure and democracy, because free Internet is an indicator of democratic nations,” he said.
Amamou, who was named Secretary of State for Youth and Sports in the transitional government of Mohamed Ghannouchi, predicted success for the party during the next election because many young people were interested in the field.
After the overthrow of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisia lifted curbs on websites, including pornographic sites. But Reporters Without Borders concluded in its latest report that Tunisia was still subject to internet censorship.
The press freedom watchdog released the study March 12th on the occasion of the World Day Against Cyber Censorship. According to the organisation, restrictions on individual internet users persist.
In this context, Tunisian bloggers plan to continue on the same path of struggle to defend their hard-won freedoms and abolish all forms of censorship that still exist.
Blogger “Boukornine” called on cyber-activists to unify and uphold their role as “the only guarantors of internet freedom”. He urged Tunisian bloggers to stay authentic and continue to defend the real objectives of the revolution, which was carried out for freedom of expression.