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Facebook case tackles freedom of speech in Tunisia's fledgling democracy.
Two Tunisians accused of posting cartoons of prophet Mohammad in the nude on Facebook have been sentenced to seven years in jail, reported Reuters.
Justice ministry spokesman Chokri Nefti told Reuters they were convicted on charges of "violation of morality, and disturbing public order." One of the two men, Ghazi Beji, is on the run from the police while the other, Jabeur Mejri, is already in jail.
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Agence-France Press said the case was brought by a lawyer who noticed the images shared online and filed a complaint in his town of Mahdia, also home to both the accused. For many Muslims, any depictions of the prophet Muhammad are forbidden under Islam. The March 28 verdict is reportedly being appealed.
Tunisia's ousting of longtime leader Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali last year sparked a wave of popular protests that took the Arab world by storm.
The country has since voted in a moderate Islamist government but is struggling with the differing demands of its deeply religious Muslim and secularist populations -- as outcry over the Facebook case shows.
Rights activist Bochra Bel Haj Hmida criticized the ruling Ennahda party over the Facebook case, telling AFP the accused "are just two young graduates who thought they were free to say they are atheists and thought they were protected on Facebook."
Some activists say there has been a crackdown on freedom of expression in Tunisia since its October elections, with one newspaper editor punished for printing a nude photo and a private television channel director charged with blasphemy for showing the award-winning film "Persepolis," which includes a depiction of Allah, according to Reuters.