Friday, January 07, 2011

Tunisian rapper Hamada Ben Amor (El Général) arrested for releasing song online critical of Tunisian president

View El Géneral's powerful video here:

As Charles, who alerted me to this, remarked: if this were Iran, the US and European media would be all over the story.

Here's what Reuters writes about the story (via al-Arabiya), Friday, Jan. 7:

TUNIS (Reuters)

Tunisian police have arrested a rap singer who released a song critical of government policies as protests against President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali's rule shook the North African nation, his brother said on Friday.

Police arrested 22-year-old Hamada Ben-Amor late on Thursday in the Mediterranean Sea coast city of Sfax, Hamdi Ben-Amor told Reuters.

"Some 30 plainclothes policemen came to our house to arrest Hamada and took him away without ever telling us where to. When we asked why they were arresting him, they said 'he knows why'," he said.

Ben-Amor is known to fans as The General. Last week he released a song on the internet titled 'President, your people are dying' that talks about the problems of the youth and unemployment.

The song came out as students, professionals and youths mounted a series of protests over a shortage of jobs and restrictions on public freedoms.

The protests have grown into the most widespread and violent flare-up of dissent of Ben Ali's 23-year rule.

Tunisian authorities on Thursday also arrested Aziz Amami, a well-known blogger, opposition militant Sofiene Chourabi said.

Security technology company Sophos said on Monday that "hacktivists" from a group calling itself 'Anonymous' had struck some official Tunisian websites, including those of Ben Ali, the government and the Tunisian stock exchange.

Tunisian officials had no immediate comment on either arrest.

I've only just been turned onto this website, featuring rap music from the Tunisian city of Bizerte. Check it out.

And here is more on El Général's arrest here, from al-Jazeera. is a translation of the opening of the song, courtesy this post.

“Mr President, today I speak to you in my name and in the name of all the people who live in suffering and pain. This is 2011 and yet, there are people who die in hunger, while others still look for a job to survive. But their voices are unheard…”

1 comment:

Steven said...

Great Stuff, Ted. Thanks for posting, and giving context.

Steven Niven, Exec Ed, Dictionary of African Biography.