NYT Journalist Slams Tunisian President After Meeting: ‘He Didn’t Allow Me to Ask a Single Question'

Published August 3rd, 2021 - 08:07 GMT
Tunisian President Kais Saied
Kais Saied sacked both the govt and parliament on the 25th of July 2021. (Shutterstock: Hussein Eddeb)

Sharing an article she wrote on the development in Tunisia amid the political crisis the country is going through, New York Times' MENA-based journalist slammed the Tunisian President Kais Saied, saying she and other journalists faced detentions, before being asked by his staff for a meeting at the Presidential Palace.

Five days after the Tunisian president decided to sack the country's Prime Minister and parliament, NYT's Cairo bureau chief Vivian Yee flew to Tunis to report on the country's political scene, including fears that Kais Saied, the president whose latest decisions have been dubbed as "controversial," might be "seizing power."

In her tweet, Yee said she was reporting on the "potential collapse of Tunisia’s democracy" and protested not being allowed to ask Saied any questions, despite him stressing his intent to preserve freedom of the press with her. The New York Times journalist also mentioned that she and her colleagues, mostly foreign journalists, were "lectured" on the US constitution by the law professor-turned President.

Yee details the unexpected sense of relief she witnessed amongst most Tunisians she talked with in the wake of the President's decisions, as some citizens told her "what has democracy done to us?"

The journalist also describes her experience as police officers detained her and her team for a couple of hours before they asked her to "stop reporting in the neighborhood."

Explaining that Kais Saied is aware of accusations that he might be Tunisia's post-Arab Spring dictator, Vivian Yee's tweet stirred many online reactions, as many pro-Saied commentators rushed to justify and defend his position, saying that the journalist "misunderstood" the invitation to the meeting with the president for a Q/A interview.

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