Silent. Better die!

By Sofiene Ben Hamida

In journalism, it is not appropriate to use the personal pronoun in the first person singular. A journalist reports the information, he is not the subject of it. The more transparent and invisible it is in its narrative, the more effective it is. However, there are exceptions.

I have been challenged over the past few days by two events. One concerns Business News’ decision to boycott the general election. The second relates to this unhealthy rumor that wants to associate my name with ongoing litigation at all costs.

As for the general election, the first days of the election campaign have unfortunately proved Business News right. The objective conditions for media coverage worthy of the name have not been met. The authority in charge of the election wants to impose on Tunisians election information stored in mothballs. This prevents Tunisians from having a clear idea and making their considered and free choices. This makes the bed of individual thought the mother of all vices and antinomian to democracy.

The choice of Business News to limit itself to the publication of information “official” stamped with the word “propaganda” is a wise choice. It respects the citizen’s right to information, which is the fundamental role of any self-respecting media, while warning that this information could not be verified due to the many restrictions imposed on the media. It is therefore an invitation to be wary of authoritarian drift, which unfortunately recalls the period of the French occupation, when Tunisian newspapers left blank frames instead of censored articles to warn Tunisians of the abuses of the occupation.

As for the rumor that wants to associate my name at all costs and give the impression of being involved in this recently leaked foreign intelligence file, it is being peddled by sides close to the Ikhchid mist. Needless to say, this rumor is completely unfounded and at most expresses the unexhausted desires, the repeated disappointments and the frustration of the rumours. Since the revolution, according to the upheavals of the political situation in our country, I have been the subject of various rumors on several occasions, often launched by the Islamists, sometimes driven by other parties. But I have always refrained from reacting in the slightest, considering that time is the unfailing ally of truth and relying on a solid contract of trust that binds the journalist that I am with Tunisian readers and listeners.

Some would say, why not continue to adopt the same approach? Precisely in contrast to previous times, when the aim of gossip was to disparage and discredit, this time the aim of gossip is to frighten, terrorize and silence free and dissenting voices. That’s why you have to react and, as the song says, break your voice.

Can we ignore the huge disappointment of the Tunisians at the action of the President of the Republic after the wave of July 25? Can we continue to swallow the snakes that pepper his speeches about the parties that destroy the state and oppose the welfare of Tunisians without ever citing those parties? Can we accept that he decides everything without consulting anyone? Can we not point out his inability to choose his collaborators? Should we accept the government deciding our future and the future of our children without warning us? Should we accept rising prices and the deterioration of our living standards without reacting? Can we trust a body that has demonstrated its incompetence and limitations to conduct an electoral process that is contested everywhere?

Journalism is a profession without parallel. It is a vocation, an incurable virus and an identity that clings to the skin of the journalist to make him the snoop on duty, the preventer from going around in circles and the voice of the anonymous and the silent mass. The journalist must face many limitations by adhering to good professional practice and strictly respecting journalistic ethics. Journalism will not make the journalist a rich man, but simply a humanist and an exceptional being.

For wealth, he who has nothing has nothing to lose, or as they say, good from home (العريان في القافلة مطمان). A long time ago, when I was a troubled teenager, my wise father told me that there are two things in life that should not be provoked, but that you should not be afraid of: prison and the dead.

Even today, I don’t know why those words marked me, and since I didn’t always choose the right path, I tried to follow the path of law and legality. So keep quiet? Certainly not and rather die!

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