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Arabic press review: Tunisian blogger arrested after Al Jazeera appearance

Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority lobbies prisoners to end protests, Bahrain revokes Human Rights Watch entry visas
Tunisian journalists protest in defence of freedom of expression and against the persecution of journalists in Tunis on 16 February 2023 (AFP)
Tunisian journalists protest in defence of freedom of expression and against the persecution of journalists in Tunis on 16 February 2023 (AFP)

Tunisian authorities arrest opposition blogger 

Tunisian police arrested a blogger and activist who is critical of President Kais Saied after he appeared on Al Jazeera, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed reported on Thursday. 

Sahbi Omari was detained on Wednesday and his health has deteriorated since his arrest, according to the London-based newspaper. 

Omari appeared on an Al Jazeera Arabic investigation aired last month. 

The activist was a former member of the Ennahda movement who left the party and later became critical of its policies. He has also become a fierce critic of Saied's mid-2021 power grab, while regularly blogging about corruption and abuses in Tunisia. 

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His detention comes amid a wave of arrests by Tunisian authorities targeting key opposition figures.

Palestinian Authority lobbies prisoners to halt disobedience action  

The Palestinian Authority (PA) is lobbying Fatah prisoners to end their mass civil disobedience action taken in response to harsh Israeli jail measures, a source told the Arabi21 news website on Thursday. 

The PA is hoping to reduce tensions behind bars and avoid wider escalation between prisoners and Israeli jail authorities. 

Palestinian political prisoners begin mass civil disobedience in Israeli jails
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Palestinian political prisoners in jails across Israel began a series of mass civil disobedience actions last month to protest against punitive measures imposed by the country's new far-right government. 

"Our only demand is freedom," the Supreme Emergency Committee for Prisoners said in a statement on 15 February. "Everyone must get our message and hear our voice, for we can no longer tolerate the violations being committed against us day and night."

The PA is "bothered" by the unity of Palestinian prisoners across their different political affiliations, the source, who was not named, told Arabi21. 

The Ramallah-based authority is lobbying its affiliated Fatah prisoners to break up the protests. 

However, the prisoners realise the punitive measures against them do not spare anyone and plan to escalate their protest, according to the source. 

The disobedience is set to culminate in a hunger strike at the start of Ramadan in late March.

Bahrain revokes HRW staff entry visas

Bahrain authorities revoked the entry visas of two staff members of Human Rights Watch (HRW), the Alkhaleej Online news website reported Friday. 

The two HRW staffers had their visas approved earlier to attend the 146th Inter-Parliamentary Union Assembly, which starts on Saturday.

Tirana Hassan, Human Rights Watch's acting executive director, described the decision as a "blatant example of its escalating repression".

"Governments, organisations with influence, and key officials should speak out loudly against Bahrain's abuses so they are not complicit in its efforts to whitewash its horrific rights record," said Hassan. 

*Arabic press review is a digest of news reports not independently verified as accurate by Middle East Eye.

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