Tunisian rapper El  Général
Tunisian rapper El Général

The Arab Spring has inspired a variety of youth movements and music. Within the genre of hip-hop, a new scene has emerged in Tunisia that fuses the energy of rap with the devotional sound of Islam.

During the revolution, rap artists such as El Généralreleased songs calling on people to take to the streets in protest.

The young rapper used his lyrics not only to denounce the brutality of the regime, but also the crushing poverty and suffocating repression that accompanied Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's 23-year rule as president.

His song Rais el Bled was hugely popular among Tunisian youths and became the anthem of a generation and a new culture of resistance.


Since the heady days of the revolution, another and more religious sound has appeared in Tunisia, combining rap and Islam.

Although the two are often viewed as being at odds with one another, some rap singers have managed to transcend traditional categories to add a religious message to their music, turning the oxymoron "Islamic rap" into a reality.

The rap singer Psycho-M , for example, has a political song called Manipulation, which praises the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party to the accompaniment of religiously inspired chanting and the words: "There is no other solution than Islam."


Ennahda, the moderate Islamist party that has emerged from the revolution and is part of the new government, appears to be more receptive to rap music than its predecessor.

Its leader, Rachid Ghannouchi, recently said that he preferred rap music to the more traditional Tunisian mezoued music.

Psycho-M has been spotted at Ennadha rallies, fuelling speculations about links between Ennahda and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Unfortunately, however, Ghannouchi's taste in music does not appear to extend to the rap artist Anis Mrabti, who goes by the stage name Volcanis le Roi.

Mrabti was arrested last week at his parents' home in Tunis over his song Nothing Has Changed, in which he denounces continued abuse by the security forces in Tunisia.