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.

 

Iraq’s peshmerga ‘break’ Mount Sinjar siege

Yemen’s Huthis seize Sanaa state offices

Tough times for oil-rich GCC

Obama concerned about Egypt mass trials

Tumbling oil prices cut budgets of Mideast arms exporters

Turkish media chiefs charged with terrorism

Iraq may delay payment of Kuwait war reparations

Over $900 million needed to help Syria children

Saudi rules out oil output reduction

Dutch populist lawmaker to be tried for 'fewer Moroccans' vow

Outrage in Algeria over Islamist call for Algerian author's death

Iraq Kurds, coalition launch offensive to retake Sinjar

Three years to end Israeli occupation in UN resolution

Somalia appoints new PM after bitter infighting

Blow to Israel: EU court removes Hamas from terror blacklist

Sharp rise in Syria passport applications

Turkey FM visit to Iran highlights Syria divide

UK troops mistreated Iraq detainees in 2004

Saudi to carry on massive public spending

Iran to Australia: We warned you about the gunman

From bikini to Jihad in Ceuta, Melilla

Tunisia votes Sunday in second round of presidential poll

Islamist militias launch air strike near key Libyan oil terminals

Egypt refers 312 Islamists to military courts

Turkey rejects EU criticism over media arrests

Kerry meets chief Palestinian negotiator

Saudi cleric sparks uproar for showing wife’s face

15,000 march against country’s ‘Islamisation’ in eastern Germany

Key oil producers face uncertain outlook in 2015

Gulf stock markets tumble

Australia mourns Sydney cafe siege victims

Hostages flee as police storm Sydney café

Erdogan to EU: Mind your own business!

Syria PM in Iran for talks with key ally

22 Swiss jihadists fighting abroad

#illridewithyou: Australians stand in solidarity with Muslims

Sydney siege 'lone wolf' or IS-led attack?

EU support UN efforts for Aleppo ceasefire

Saudi policeman killed in Riyadh hostage-taking

Saudi king receives Jordan monarch

Palestinians push UN bid to end Israeli occupation

Hostages held in Sydney cafe, Islamic flag held up

Hamas stages show of strength to mark 27th anniversary

France 'neutralised' 200 jihadists in Sahel region of West Africa

Kerry in Rome ahead of Palestinian push at UN