Articles published in this space do not necessarily reflect Nawaat's opinions.


Weld El 15, the young rapper, was sentenced to two years of prison for singing “policemen are dogs” (البوليسية كلاب) and convicted for public indecency and cop contempt. Is it that I do not understand the law? Or is it that these laws defy those of logic?

I will not relate the sentence to the government and the party in power, simply because the judicial branch is “supposedly independent”, and the interim government is not responsible for the already-existing Tunisian laws. So, let us be a bit rational and avoid “the affective free associations” that are substantially groundless.

My grievances to this sentence are of a purely objective nature. Let us consider the first charge: public indecency. In artistically-lay spheres, most Tunisians would be public indecency-convicts if the “publicly-decent” Tunisians decided to press charges against them! I would rather have a taxi driver who yells profanity at his customers jailed than a young amateur rapper. Moving to the second charge, which is cop contempt, I have the impression that those in charge of the case have never visited a university campus, or even gone out on a hike in the streets of Tunis. Most people who write insulting remarks about cops on the walls everywhere do not even know that what they are doing is graffiti, and sometimes do not understand for what do the initials in the infamous acronym that ornaments walls stand_ all they know is that they are insulting the police. Following this line, police-friendly Tunisians, if such a “species” exists, can press charges against the cop-contempt clan and have the majority of Tunisians jailed as well!

If I were to cut the satire and be serious, I would say that: first, the time to be served is exaggerated in comparison with other infractions; second, if the sentence is legally-correct, then it should have been passed onto other people who preceded Weld El 15 into “bestializing” the police on national TV*; and finally, if it is meant as a “monitory” verdict, to prevent future trivialization of the law, then it is a failed warning since it victimized Weld El 15 instead of incriminating him.

This being said, I would add that I do not support those who want to politicize the rapper and the case, nor those who wish to confer a “militant” portent upon the song and the singer. Anyone who listens to the piece of rap can notice that “cops are dogs” NOT for oppressing protesters, violating human rights, torturing political prisoners and harassing their families! According to the lyrics, the police owe their “canine nature” to arresting the rapper for drug use. So, by all means antagonize the two-year-jail-time sentence, attack our “selective” justice system, but do not try to force an activist trait upon a piece of “rapped retaliation” that Weld El 15 sang out of personal grudges.


* I know well that 97% of national guard officers and policemen are decent…Then you have 3 or 4% of them who are monkeys.
Beji Caid Essebsi, Sep 6th 2011