Tunisia: Head of public TV dismissed after channel aired religious sermon greeting ousted Ben Ali

Tunisian authorities have dismissed head of a public state-run television channel after the media broadcasted, allegedly by mistake, an old religious sermon hailing the ousted President Ben Ali.

Dismissal of Mohammed Lazhar Fares, head of El Wataniya 1 and interim director of El Wataniya 2, occurred early this week over the airing of an old religious sermon that greeted Ben Ali and his family.

In the ante-2011 sermon, aired on May 6, which coincided with the beginning of the religious month of Ramadan, the preacher hailed Ben Ali for providing prosperity and security for the North African country.

“During this holy month, we ask Allah to bless President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and the first lady Mrs Leila Ben Ali,” the preacher said.

“We hope that our dear Tunisia enjoys security, safety and peace under the leadership of its beloved son, the fair and sincere President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who led our country to prosperity”.

The national television apologized and launched an investigation into the incident, which sparked anger from activists and viewers on social media who believed the broadcast was not a mistake.

“We apologize for the inadvertent human error we made while pulling the tape out of the tape safe,” a statement from the national television said.

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