Tunisia: New union to defend rappers’ freedom of expression

Tunisian rap artists have launched a labour union to defend their interests and promote their art. The ‘National Rap Union’ will be linked to the General Confederation of Tunisian Workers and intends to “raise the level of urgency of files concerning the defence of freedom of expression.”

tunisia-rap-union-Magha

This was reported by Magharebia on 15 October 2013

Tunisian rappers have recently been involved in several court proceedings, raising concerns about artistic freedom of expression in the country. Musicians have been seen subjected to harassment and trials.

The rappers Mustapha Fakhfakh and Aymen El-Fikih will stand trial in November 2013 for allegedly clashing with the police during the June trial of fellow rap artist Weld El 15. Tunisian rapper Klay BBJ was serving a six-month sentence for insulting the police, until he was suddenly released on 17 October 2013. On 11 October, he had sent a letter from his cell stating that he was in prison for his opinions.

“The national union of rap artists aims to save the sector from marginalisation and unify them under a legal structure, ensuring their rights and defending them against abuses,” its chief Wajdi Bouzaydi announced on 10 October 2013.


Meeting with Security Forces
According to the new union’s head, the idea to launch the body “was not a reaction to what happened to our friends in terms of judicial and security prosecution, but was dictated by the need to defend our physical and moral rights and regulating a domain that is still marginalised.”

“The union will hold a working meeting with the Union of Security Forces in the coming days in order to correct the turbulent relationship between rap artists and security forces,” Bouzaidi told Magharebia.

Many civil society organisations have condemned the prosecution of rappers such as Weld El 15 and Klay BBJ. But Klay BBJ declined to join the syndicate, saying, “I have an opinion on it which I do not want to express right now. I thank them for what they have done for me and I hold their position in high regard, unequivocally.”


Magharebia – 15 October 2013:
Tunisia rap artists start union
By Jamel Arfaoui