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.

 

Tunisia goes for democracy to counter schemes of Ennahda and Marzouki

Biden: You cannot think free where you cannot challenge orthodoxy

Does Abbas have enough political influence to stop violence in Jerusalem?

Iran sees ‘no more room’ for talks on design of Arak reactor

Ladies first at Global Entrepreneurship Summit

Turkey offers military assistance to Iraq

Bomb hits police post near Helwan University in Egypt

UN demands staff member release in South Sudan

US envoy: IS ‘impaled itself’ on Kobane

Morocco King and Biden discuss ‘compelling alternative’ to dissuade potential jihadists

In response to Amnesty report: UAE remains committed to protection of human rights

World blacklists Ansar al-Sharia group in Libya

Dempsey places heavy responsibility on Iraq fractured army

Barbarism of suicide bombers rocks Arbil in fresh bloody attack

Egypt gives its blessing to Qatar return to Arab fold

France identifies second citizen in IS execution video

Israel returns to policy of punitive house demolitions

France reveals worrying numbers: More than 1000 jihadist nationals in Syria

Without Khamenei support, Rouhani risks much in Iran nuclear gamble

Saudi King urges Egypt to support Qatar return to Arab fold

Turkey may go ahead with redevelopment of Gezi Park

Suicide bomber blows up car in Iraqi Kurdish capital

Iraq government transfers $500 million to Kurdish region

Syria economy back to 1980s size

Netanyahu: Israel at the height of ongoing terror attack

Spanish lawmakers urge Madrid to recognise Palestine

Is GCC spat over Qatar finally over?

Turkey fears new wave of Syria refugees if Aleppo falls

Saudi Arabia expands buffer zone with Iraq

Spain parliament takes step towards recognising Palestine

Deadliest Jerusalem attack in years raises fears of escalation

Syria Kurds make new gains in heart of Kobane

Ben Ali son-in-law in Tunisia to challenge jail sentence

Iran parliament rejects Rouhani's science minister pick

Iran nuclear deal in doubt amid differences on key issues

Jordan queen: our silence is the greatest gift for IS

Iran nuclear talks enter final round in Vienna

35.8 million people trapped in modern-day slavery

Tunisia holds first multi-candidate presidential poll

Four Israelis killed in Jerusalem synagogue attack

US to begin scanning travelers from Mali for Ebola

Saudi National Guard chief to seek more US support

Israel blocks entry to Norwegian doctor

Can Obama seal historic nuclear deal with Iran?

Deadly clashes force Tripoli airport closure