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Tunisian rapper sentenced to prison for insulting police

© Screen grab of “The Police are Dogs” music video

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-06-13

Tunisian rapper Ala Yaacoubi, who is also known by the name “Weld El 15,” was sentenced to two years in prison on Thursday for insulting the police after he posted a music video online entitled “The Police are Dogs”.

Tunisian rapper Ala Yaacoubi was sentenced to two years in prison on Thursday on charges of insulting the police, after posting a music video entitled “The Police are Dogs” online.

The verdict was pronounced by a judge in Ben Arous, a suburb of the capital Tunis, where Yaacoubi was being retried after the same court convicted him in absentia in March. As the ruling was read, Yaacoubi’s supporters burst out into shouts of protests before they were swiftly expelled from the courtroom by police. Some were reported to have been beaten once outside of the building.

Popularly known by the name "Weld El 15," Yaacoubi turned himself into police earlier this week after three months on the run. Yaccoubi had previously said that his choice of title was a conscious decision. "In the song, I used the same terms that the police used to speak about the youth. The police have to respect citizens if they want to be respected," he said.

Yaccoubi’s case is one of several that has triggered outrage over the issue of freedom of expression in Tunisia since former president Zine al-Abedine Ben Ali’s downfall after a popular uprising against his leadership in January, 2011. Activists and critics of the country’s current ruling Islamist Ennahda party have often accused the government of seeking to muzzle them.

In April last year, two youths were jailed for seven and a half years for publishing caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed on Facebook.

On Wednesday, three European members of the radical women's protest group Femen were jailed for four months for staging a topless demonstration in Tunis in support of a detained Tunisian activist.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2013-06-13

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