Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Tunisian rappers jailed in absentia over lyrics insulting police

Two Tunisian rappers, Weld El 15 and Klay BBJ, have been given jail terms of one year and nine months in absentia for insulting officials, lawyer says.

TUNIS // Two Tunisian rappers, Weld El 15 and Klay BBJ, have been given jail terms of one year and nine months in absentia for insulting officials, their lawyer said today.

"This trial took place without us being summoned," said Ghazi Mrabet.

"I will speak to my clients to challenge this ruling, but jail sentences demonstrate that the relentless campaign against artistic freedom, freedom of expression, continues," he added.

The two young men, who were arrested at a concert in the eastern town of Hammamet on August 22 and freed the following day, were convicted of insulting officials, violating public morals and defamation.

Mr Mrabet said he was surprised to hear about the trial, which took place on Friday without him being informed, because he was waiting to receive the court summons and the charges against his clients.

The lawyer said he found out about the court ruling through the local media but had to wait until Monday for confirmation.

The justice ministry and the judiciary refuse to comment on court decisions.

One of the two rappers, Weld El 15, was jailed in June for a song he wrote called "The Police are Dogs", and freed on appeal in July after his two year sentence was reduced on appeal to a six month suspended term.

The police have said that the words of their songs had been offensive to public officials, a crime that carries a possible jail sentence in Tunisia.

The original trial of Weld El 15, whose real name is Ala Yaacoubi, sparked a scandal at the time, with members of the opposition and human rights groups calling it an attack on freedom of speech.

But Islamist Prime Minister Ali Larayedh dismissed those claims, saying the musician was being prosecuted "for inciting hatred and calling for the death of police and magistrates."

Mrabet has insisted that Weld El 15 had not sung the song in question at the concert in Hammamet.

"He sang his old repertoire, songs dating to the time of [the ousted Zine El Abidine] Ben Ali," the lawyer said, speaking the day after the arrest last month.

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani greets supporters after his arrival in Zahedan, the regional capital of Sistan and Baluchestan province on Tuesday, April 15, 2014. During Mr Rouhani's two-day visit, he will tour several other cities and hold meetings with local scholars and entrepreneurs. Maryam Rahmanian for The National

On the road with Hassan Rouhani

Iran's president is touring some of Iran's most underdeveloped provinces. Foreign correspondent Yeganeh Salehi is traveling with him.

 The Doha-based Youssef Al Qaradawi speaks to the crowd as he leads Friday prayers in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt in February, 2011. The outspoken pro-Muslim Brotherhood imam has been critical of the UAE’s policies toward Islamist groups, adding to friction between Qatar and other GCC states. Khalil Hamra / AP Photo

Brotherhood imam skips Doha sermon, but more needed for GCC to reconcile

That Youssef Al Qaradawi did not speak raises hopes that the spat involving Qatar and the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain might be slowly moving towards a resolution.

 Twitter photo of  Abdel Fattah El Sisi on the campaign trail on March 30. Photo courtesy-Twitter/@SisiCampaign

El Sisi rides a bicycle, kicks off social media storm

The photos and video created a huge buzz across social media networks, possibly a marker of a new era for Egypt.

 An Afghan election commission worker carries a ballot box at a vote counting centre in Jalalabad on April 6. A roadside bomb hit a truck carrying full ballot boxes in northern Afghanistan, killing three people a day after the country voted for a successor to President Hamid Karzai. Eight boxes of votes were destroyed in the blast, which came as the three leading candidates voiced concerns about possible fraud. Noorullah Shirzada / AFP Photo

Two pressing questions for Afghanistan’s future president

Once in office, the next Afghan president must move fast to address important questions that will decide the immediate future of the country.

 Friday is UN Mine Awareness Day and Omer Hassan, who does demining work in Iraqi Kurdistan, is doing all he can to teach people about the dangers posed by landmines. Louise Redvers for The National

A landmine nearly ended Omer’s life but he now works to end the threat of mines in Iraq

Omer Hassan does demining work in Iraqi Kurdistan and only has to show people his mangled leg to underscore the danger of mines. With the world marking UN Mine Awareness Day on Friday, his work is as important as ever as Iraq is one of the most mine-affected countries in the world.

 Supporters of Turkey's ruling AKP cheer as they follow the election's results in front of the party's headquarters in Ankara on March 30. Adem Altan/ AFP Photo

Erdogan critic fears retaliation if he returns to Turkey

Emre Uslu is a staunch critic of Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Now, with a mass crackdown on opposition expected, he is unsure when he can return home.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National