Tunis — After spending more than two weeks in prison, Tunisian rapper Ahmed Ben Ahmed, better known as Klay BBJ, still holds true to his views.
"There will be no change in my position on defending the oppressed and condemning injustice and oppression, no matter what their source is," the rapper told Magharebia.
Klay BBJ was acquitted on appeal October 17th after he was initially sentenced to a six-month prison term in September for insulting security officials and violating public morals.
According to Klay BBJ, his time behind bars allowed him to see people's suffering, and made him put out a song speaking on the matter. "The prison time has given me an invaluable experience and I have gotten closer to people's worries," he said.
Referring to the way he was treated by the prison guards, especially since he was sentenced for what was considered to be an offense to the honour of the security forces, Klay said he was treated with full respect: "I was treated very well by the prison officers, and was treated the same way by the prisoners with whom I shared my cell."
"I have discovered the extent of people's love for me and that strengthens my determination not to disappoint them and to provide an output that rises up to their expectations," the rapper said in describing what he learned from his prison experience.
In a statement to Magharebia, Makram al-Lawwati, a 21-year-old student and a rap enthusiast, said: "It is not easy for any artist to be deprived of his freedom even for a single day, but I know Klay. He comes from a simple area; he will not compromise and will not betray those who are attached to him and to his art, which expresses the suffering of his own people who are unemployed and marginalised."
For his part, Maher al-Shatti, an unemployed university graduate, told Magharebia: "The day the sentence was announced was a tough day for me and my friends who came with me to court."
"We were very happy and our optimism continues that there is still someone fighting to reinforce the freedom we have achieved to express our concerns, worries, and dreams," al-Shatti added.
Many civil society organisations have condemned the prosecution of rappers such as Weld El 15 and Klay BBJ.
The recently launched rap artist union declared its support for Klay BBJ and other musicians who have been subjected to harassment or trials.
In a statement issued October 10th, the union said the idea behind its foundation was mainly the result of the problems the rap sector has been suffering from: "Often a pause for reflection is required to organise the sector at all levels."
But Klay BBJ declined to join the syndicate, saying, "I have an opinion on it which I do not want to express right now. I thank them for what they have done for me and I hold their position in high regard, unequivocally."