Hidden camera TV show on Israel sparks furor in Tunisia

TV show in which well-known Tunisians were secretly filmed agreeing to deal with 'Israel' sparks controversy.

Tags: Tunisia

Fort in Tunisia
Fort in Tunisia

A television show in which well-known Tunisians were secretly filmed agreeing to deal with Israel has sparked controversy in the North African nation, which cut off ties with the Jewish state almost two
decades ago.

Even before being broadcast, the "Shalom" show caused a stir after lists of those filmed agreeing to cooperate with Israel -- for financial rewards -- were circulated on social media.

In the programs, actors presenting themselves as aides to an "Israeli embassy" operating secretly in Tunisia -- which severed relations with the Jewish state in 2000 -- meet up with politicians, performers and sports personalities.

Those caught up in the ruse include a sportswoman who agreed to coach an Israeli club for $120,000.

Raouf Ayadi, an opposition leader and known critic of Israel, claimed to "have no problem" with the Jewish state while being filmed by a hidden camera.

"I was put under a lot of pressure, I was terrified," he told Mosaique FM radio, who in a clip is shown looking visibly worried in the presence of an armed man.

"Scenes in which an armed bodyguard stopped me from leaving" have been left out, according to Ayadi, leader of the Wafa party.

While internet users have hit out at the personalities for agreeing to collaborate with Israel, the use of a hidden camera was criticized online as a "disgrace".

"Shalom" had been due to air on the first day of the holy Muslim festival of Ramadan, but the furor created led a private channel to scrap it from the schedule.

Speaking to local media, producer Walid Zribi slammed the decision as "censorship".

Zribi said he had received threats and on Tuesday called for police protection.

The program has been broadcast on a different channel from Sunday evening, when those observing Ramadan gather to break the daily dawn-to-dusk fast.