First Published: 2013-07-02

 

Pressure pays off: Tunisia rapper Weld El 15 wins freedom on appeal

 

Ala Yaacoubi, jailed for two years for a song, will be freed on Tuesday after being given six month suspended sentence on appeal.

 

Middle East Online

Weld El 15 rose to fame after severe jail sentence

TUNIS - Tunisian rapper Ala Yaacoubi, jailed for two years last month for a song in which he insulted the police, will be freed on Tuesday after being given a six month suspended sentence on appeal, his lawyer said.

"It's a victory for freedom and democracy, for Weld El 15 who did nothing wrong but made a work of art," attorney Ghazi Mrabet, who used the singer's rap name, said following the court's verdict.

As the ruling was announced, shouts of joy erupted outside of the court of appeal in Tunis where friends and supporters of the rapper had gathered.

"Freedom for Weld El 15!" they shouted.

The 25-year-old musician was to be freed from the prison in a suburb of the capital where he has been held since his conviction by the court of first instance on June 13.

The severity of the initial two-year jail sentence, for a song he wrote called "The Police are Dogs," in which he aggressively insulted Tunisian police and judges, was sharply criticised even by some government officials.

Members of the opposition and human rights groups called it an attack on freedom of speech, a charge rejected by Islamist Prime Minister Ali Larayedh.

"He was not tried on the basis of his work, or the freedom of expression, but for inciting hatred and calling for the death of police and magistrates," Larayedh said on Monday, in an interview with television channel France 24.

In the video of the song which was posted on YouTube, the rapper is heard saying: "Police, magistrates, I'm here to tell you one thing, you dogs; I'll kill police instead of sheep; Give me a gun I'll shoot them."

Tunisia's Islamist-led government has frequently been accused by its critics of seeking to curb civil liberties acquired after the popular uprising that overthrew former strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011.

 

Jordan ready to do ‘everything’ to save life of IS-held pilot

Egypt orders deportation of Australian reporter Peter Greste

Huthis set three-day deadline to resolve Yemen crisis

Mosques in Britain open doors to public in reassurance gesture

Saudi Prince Alwaleed launches pan-Arab news channel

‘Islamic State’ beheads of Iraq security personnel in latest atrocity

Saudi Arabia frees woman activist close to blogger Raef Badawi

Deadly blast targets Shiite pilgrims in central Damascus

UN says violence in Iraq killed at least 1,375 people in January

Stateless activist gets five years in jail for insulting Kuwait emir

Gunfire wounds two Americans in eastern Saudi Arabia

Japan condemns 'despicable' beheading of second hostage

Who plotted assassination of Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyeh?

Bahrain revokes citizenship of 72 unrest convicts

Wary of Internet, jihadists change communication strategy

Egypt blacklists Hamas armed wing as ‘terrorist organization’

Concern rises in Japan as hostage negotiations hit 'deadlock'

Party of Yemen ex-president breaks boycott to join Huthi meeting

UN chief backs African force to fight Boko Haram

AU: Ignoring South Sudan findings will help the guilty

Hezbollah warns it does not fear new war with Israel

Saudi blogger’s flogging postponed for third week

Iran seeks good relations with Saudi Arabia

Jordan still kept in the dark over pilot fate

Syria’s Qaeda fights Western-backed rebels

Abbas to visit Stockholm after Palestine recognised

UN chief to African leaders: do not 'cling to power'

Israel to go ahead with 430 new West Bank settler homes

Libya rivals to join peace talks if held on home soil

New Saudi king announces sweeping cabinet shake-up

Deadly Sinai attacks force Sisi to cut short overseas trip

Israel reduces energy supplies to Palestinians

Syria opposition embassy in Qatar renews passports

Hezbollah sends message to Israel ‘conflict is over’

Women protest against Egypt police after fatal shooting

Libyan airline suspends flights

Iraq government vows to investigate Diyala massacre

MSF withdraws help from two Sudan states

Jordan wants to see proof pilot alive before exchange

US says thousands of Somali children facing starvation

Kuwait online activists arrested 'over Saudi criticism'

British mosques open doors to reach out to citizens

Iran, Europe officials to meet Thursday in Istanbul

IS issues new deadline to kill Jordanian pilot if demand not met

Netanyahu warns Hezbollah will pay 'full price'