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Tunisian blogger arrested for alleged public drinking

TUNIS--Tunisian blogger Sofian Shurabi, a scathing critic of deposed President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, said he was arrested on Sunday, as websites said he was caught drinking alcohol in public during Ramadan.

“I was arrested at the police station Menzel Temime,” eastern Tunisia, he wrote on his Facebook page, without giving details.

The interior ministry could not be reached for comment but Tunisian online media said Shurabi was arrested drinking alcohol on a beach.

Being drunk in public is punishable by 15 days in jail in Tunisia and drinking alcohol is an offence during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan which started on July 20.

Shurabi, who works for the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, was popular for his scathing blogs targeting the regime of Ben Ali that was toppled in January 2011.

Like several other civil society members, Shurabi has expressed fear of a creeping Islamization in Tunisia, where the government is dominated by the Islamist party Al-Nahda, allied with two center-left movements.

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