January 7, 2011 / 11:57 AM / 10 years ago

Tunisian rapper arrested after online protest song

Tunisia's President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali waves to supporters after he took the oath at the national assembly in Tunis November 12, 2009. REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi

TUNIS (Reuters) - Tunisian police have arrested a rap singer who released a song critical of government policies as protests against President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali’s rule shook the North African nation, his brother said on Friday.

Police arrested 22-year-old Hamada Ben-Amor late on Thursday in the Mediterranean Sea coast city of Sfax, Hamdi Ben-Amor told Reuters.

“Some 30 plainclothes policemen came to our house to arrest Hamada and took him away without ever telling us where to. When we asked why they were arresting him, they said ‘he knows why’,” he said.

Ben-Amor is known to fans as The General. Last week he released a song on the internet titled ‘President, your people are dying’ that talks about the problems of the youth and unemployment.

The song came out as students, professionals and youths mounted a series of protests over a shortage of jobs and restrictions on public freedoms.

The protests have grown into the most widespread and violent flare-up of dissent of Ben Ali’s 23-year rule.

Tunisian authorities on Thursday also arrested Aziz Amami, a well-known blogger, opposition militant Sofiene Chourabi said.

Security technology company Sophos said on Monday that “hacktivists” from a group calling itself ‘Anonymous’ had struck some official Tunisian websites, including those of Ben Ali, the government and the Tunisian stock exchange.

Tunisian officials had no immediate comment on either arrest.

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