Tunisia: Rappers 'form trade union'

Tunisian rappers Seif Khrissi (Tuniaif), Bilel Matmati (MC Bilel), Mohamed Soufienne (Jok boss), Moez Belhaj (T-Gang) and Mohamed Kadri (BMG) pose after a press conference to announce the creation of a rapper trade union in Tunis

Rappers in Tunisia have formed a union in the face of a crackdown on using lyrics that criticise the authorities, it's reported.

The National Rap Union will be linked to the General Confederation of Tunisian Workers, according to the US-government funded news site Magharebia. It quotes secretary general Wajdi Bouzaidi telling private radio station Shems FM that the group aimed to defend the rights of hip-hop artists. "The rappers union has little to do with work contracts and a lot to do with sending a signal to the powers that be. These appear unable to take any criticism," according to Italian news agency Ansa's Tunis reporter.

Last month, rapper Klay BBJ was jailed for six months for insulting the police at a concert in the resort of Hammamet. His co-performer on that occasion, Weld El 15, is on the run. He'd only just been given early release, thanks to public protest, from a two-year sentence for performing his song The Police Are Dogs. Meanwhile, rappers Mustapha Fakhfakh and Aymen El-Fikih will stand trial for "insulting public officials" and "affronting morals" during protests surrounding his trial. Tunisian authorities have been increasingly taking action against artists as Islamist influence grows.

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