This Week in the Mercury


Saturday, January 29, 2011

Protest Rapper Arrested in Tunisia

Posted by Andrew R Tonry on Sat, Jan 29, 2011 at 4:51 PM

From the New Yorker:

That ended on December 17th, when Mohamed Bouazizi, a twenty-six-year-old fruit seller, set himself on fire in the central town of Sidi Bouzid. He was protesting the demands for bribes and the abuse that he had endured at the hands of the police. Bouazizi lay in a hospital for more than two weeks, his face wrapped in thick bandages. Anger spread in the streets and online. Ben Ali made an awkward pilgrimage to his bedside, promising reform. On January 4th, Bouazizi died. On January 13th, the state security forces, after having killed dozens of unarmed civilians in the previous week, refused orders to keep shooting. The next day, Ben Ali and his wife fled fist-shaking mobs in the capital, Tunis, by hopping a private jet to Saudi Arabia.

“President of the Country,” a searing Arabic rap song, served as a soundtrack for the revolution. The week before Bouazizi’s death, Hamada Ben Amor, who is twenty-two and goes by the name El Général, used a handheld camera to tape himself singing the song, a baseball cap pulled over his eyes. “Mr. President,” he exclaimed, “your people are dead!” Al Jazeera and various social media picked up the video. The secret police arrested Ben Amor, inflaming his followers, and hastening Ben Ali’s exit.

El General "President of the Country"

The uprising in Tunisia has led to violent protests in Egypt. For up to date coverage check the NY Times' The Lede blog.

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