Tunisian rapper arrested over protest song

Tunisian rapper arrested over protest song

TUNIS - Agence France-Presse
Tunisian rapper arrested over protest song

A Tunisian man skateboards in the mansion which formerly belonged to Imed Trabelsi, a nephew of ousted Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. REUTERS photo

Tunisian police have arrested a young rapper, apparently over a song entitled "Nothing Has Changed" in which he denounces police abuse, his relatives told AFP yesterday.

Anis Mrabti -- who goes by the state name "Volcanis le Roi" - was arrested at his parents' home in Tunis' southern suburbs on January 25 by policemen who also took his computer, his father said.

"They arrived in a civilian 4X4, walked in without saying who they were and searched the place before asking if Anis was the author of the song "Matbadel Chay" [Nothing Has Changed]," Mongi Mrabti said.

"These plain-clothed policemen then took Anis away and confiscated his computer, telling us that he would be home soon," he added.

The 27-year-old rapper was brought before a judge in Grombalia, 45 kilometers south of the capital, he said.

In the incriminated song, the rapper tells of his disappointment in the aftermath of the popular uprising that brought down president Zine el Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011, after 23 years of despotic rule.

Volcanis le Roi argues that dire poverty, corruption and police abuse have all continued in post-revolution Tunisia. The words "F... the police" recur in the song.

"Why did they take his computer? Why did they arrest him if it's all about a song?" the father said, adding that he had not received any information about his son's plight from the authorities.

Many young Tunisians have expressed frustration at the scope and pace of change since the collapse of Ben Ali's regime.