Tunisia: Rappers and comedians fear for freedom of expression


Tunisian rappers, comedians and journalists are bracing themselves to defend the freedoms won since the dictatorship was ousted in 2011, reported Agence France-Presse, AFP.

Rappers, a particular bane of the old regime, are leading the way in warning against what they fear could be the effective return to power of long-time leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s RCD party in the shape of the Nidaa Tounes party, which won parliamentary elections on 26 October 2014.

88-year-old Beji Caid Essebsi who won the presidential run-off vote in December 2014 was a former official in Ben Ali’s one-party administration, but reinvented himself and founded the secular party Nidaa Tounes. His main rival in the election, Moncef Marzouki, warned that Essebsi would bring back the authoritarian policies of previous regimes.

“The fight for freedom of expression is not over. We’ve learnt from experience that every new government tries to restrict this freedom. We are forever wary because we’re convinced the political class at large is only democratic in its speech,” the president of the journalists’ union, Neji Bghouri, told AFP.

Beji Caid Essebsi got 55.68 percent of the vote against his rival’s 44.32 percent, according to Tunisia’s High Electoral Commission. The presidential vote in December was a final step in the country’s transition to full democracy.

» AFP video (duration: 02:14) and transcript:
Tunisia artists, media fear for freedoms after election

» Agence France-Presse | Aquila-style.com – 19 November 2014:
Tunisia artists, media fear for freedoms after election
Article by By Kaouther Larbi

» Nawaat.org – 13 March 2014:
Between criminalization and marginalization, Art remains a counter-movement in Tunisia
Article by Vanessa Szakal

» The Guardian – 15 October 2013:
Tunisian rappers face renewed repression
Crackdown on artists and DJs has dashed hopes of freedom of expression post Ben Ali. Article by Monica Mark