Tunisia Rap Video Lands Creators In Jail


By Yasmin Najjar

Tunisia is expanding its investigation into the “Boulicia Kleb” music video by rapper Weld El 15, the interior ministry announced on Tuesday (March 12th).

Director Mohamed Hedi Belgueyed and actress Sabrine Klibi were arrested March 10th on slander and other charges, one week after the release of the YouTube video that criticised the police.

Eight people are reportedly wanted in connection with the case. The charges carry prison terms of up to five years, ministry spokesperson Adel Riahi said.

Klibi and Belgueyed appeared last Tuesday before the Court of First Instance in Ben Arous. The pair will remain in detention until their trial, according the interior ministry.

“The public prosecutor in Ben Arous opened an investigation following the posting of a video clip on YouTube called ‘Boulicia Kleb’ with words and gestures that are unethical, abusive and threatening toward security forces and magistrates,” read a statement by the interior ministry.

“The contents of the video clip of the referenced rap song ‘require criminal punishment’,” the communiqué added.

Rapper Weld El 15 is on the run, telling a Tunisian independent collective blog on Tuesday night that he would not turn himself in. He also claimed full responsibility for the video and called for the release of Klibi and Belgueyed.

“He is aware of recent developments in his case, but would not give himself up because he trusts neither the security nor the judiciary, especially after threats were made against him by people who seemed to be from the security forces, according to his declarations on social network pages,” Nawaat said.

Tunisian rap’s interest in political and social issues began before the revolution.

Songs by El General (real name Hamada Ben Amor), such as “Rais le Bled,” and “Tounes Bledna”, were widely seen as playing a major part in the ouster of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Rap continues to call attention to issues important to young people, such as unemployment and poverty.

“I love to hear rap because it reflects the situation of young Tunisians in our dialect and humour,” 22-year old Shamsuddin Hani told Magahrebia.

Rappers must “say everything they feel, otherwise they fail”, Hani added.

“Weld El 15 expressed the opinion of most Tunisians who tasted and still taste the bitterness of a failed policy,” he noted.

But not all young Tunisians agree with this kind of message.

While Nawel Hareth likes some rap that talks about Tunisian youth and the political situation, she said the song that put the producer and female star in jail last week went too far.

“I consider ‘Boulicia Kleb’ to contain a lot of slander and to be an assault on security forces, which are trying to keep us safe,” she said.

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