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.

 

UN Syria peace talks begin in Geneva

Israel to deny Human Rights Watch visas for being ‘biased’

Iraqi forces enter IS-held west Mosul

Suicide bomb attack on rebels kills 51 near Al-Bab

Marrakesh clinches top ranking of African urban life

UN considers Syria sanctions over chemical attacks

Saudi Comic-Con slammed as ‘sin’ in online backlash

Jordanians protest government price hikes

Baghdad coordinated anti-IS airstrikes with Damascus says source

New Hamas Gaza leader makes first public appearance

Palestinian protestors clash with Israeli soldiers in West Bank

Jordanian F-16 crashes in Saudi, pilot survives

Iraqi PM says air force strikes IS targets in Syria

UN slams light sentence for Israeli soldier

Saudi king seeks investment on rare Asia tour

Saudi minister discusses hajj with Iran

136 Turkish diplomats, soldiers seek German asylum since coup

New Hamas ‘strongman’ could spell fresh Israeli conflict

Suicide car bomb kills eight outside Yemen army base

Fired Turkish academics protest ‘unjust’ dismissals

Iraqi forces jovial after Mosul airport entry

Syrian rebels announce capture of flashpoint town from IS

Iraqi forces enter IS-held Mosul airport

Swedish citizen jailed for IS Facebook post

Somalia names new prime minister

Netanyahu backs pardon for Israel soldier who shot Palestinian

UN envoy meets Syrian rivals, hopes of breakthrough slim

Yemeni government forces pin back rebels on coast

Israeli Supreme Court appoints deeply right-wing judges

Hundreds of Australians protest Netanyahu

Yemen rebel fire kills policeman on Saudi border

UN condemns Israel's new West Bank demolition plans

UN envoy says Russia asked Syria to halt bombing during talks

Bahrain arrests 20, approves military trials for civilians

Israel blocks EU lawmakers from Gaza entry

Syrian migrant on trial in Austria over 20 murders

UN says rapes, killings still blight Darfur

Yemen president says Saudi saving $10 bn for reconstruction

Top Yemen commander killed in missile strike

New Somali president says ability to deal with nation's problems 'limited'

Israel lifts ban on basketball team playing in Turkey

Arab League condemns Israeli soldier’s lenient sentence

Turkey lifts ban on Islamic headscarves in army

Israeli ministry orders removal of Haifa ammonia tank

Iraqi forces ready for assault on Mosul airport