A British DJ has been sentenced to a year in jail by a Tunisian court after he played a remix recording of the Muslim call to prayer in a nightclub.
The London-born Dax J, who left Tunisia after last weekend’s incident, was charged with public indecency and offending public morality, said Ylyes Miladi, a spokesman of a court in the town of Grombalia.
Tunisian authorities shut down the nightclub in the north-east town of Nabeul and began an investigation after a video, widely shared on social media, showed clubbers dancing to music that included the call to prayer, sparking a storm of debate.
“We will not allow attacks against religious feelings and the sacred,” the governor of Nabeul, Mnaouar Ouertani, said when the club was shut down….
The court dismissed charges against the nightclub owner and an organiser of the event in the coastal resort, but the prosecution has appealed saying the two should have checked what the DJ would be playing.
Tunisia’s religious affairs ministry has said: “Mocking the opinions and religious principles of Tunisians is absolutely unacceptable.”
This sort of thing–prosecution for what amounts to blasphemy–was not uncommon in the West in the not-so-distant past. Blasphemy laws still exist in the UK and some folks there still make noises about using them, but they’re not enforced.
I realize something akin to a “religious affairs ministry” still exists in a few Western nations, but as far as I know, they’re not about enforcing orthodoxy or punishing heterodoxy.
It should also be noted that it’s not just in predominantly Muslim countries that offenses against religious sensibilities are punished. One doesn’t go to Thailand and climb on or deface figures of the Buddha, say.