Tunisia Punishing the Pious

A major trial of fundamentalists ends with lenient sentences

The defendants, all Islamic fundamentalists, stood as still as wax figures in the Tunis courtroom while Judge Hachemi Zammel forcefully read out each verdict and sentence. Their trademark beards had been shaved off when they were jailed in a series of roundups earlier this year, but their piety remained intact. When the judge completed his task, the prisoners broke into refrains of "Allahu Akbar" (God is great). Seven were sentenced to death, 69 to jail terms, and 14 were acquitted. Thirty-seven of the accused, including five of those marked for execution, were still in hiding and were tried in absentia.


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