Inside the Middle East
March 3, 2011
Posted: 627 GMT

Tunisia's rappers have long made a point of speaking their minds, their lyrics often bringing them into conflict with the old regime. But more than simply upsetting the status quo, according to one of the country's leading rappers their music was the "fuel" for Tunisia's revolution.

"Balti" is Tunisia's best-known rapper and one of the founding fathers of hip-hop music in the country.
His most popular videos have reached 350,000 hits on YouTube and he's performed to audiences of over 50,000, sharing the stage with such Western rap idols as Method Man.

His latest recording is "Zine el Abadine Ben Ali and the 40 Thieves," a barbed account of the former president deceiving his people.

Rappers risked the wrath of the authorities under the Ben Ali regime, writing and recording in secret studios. Balti says he was arrested and briefly jailed in 2005 for a song which wasn't one of his. Read more...

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Filed under: Inside The Middle East •Tunisia

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John A   March 3rd, 2011 11:12 am ET

And this story qualifies as necessary journalism?

Meanwhile what about questions our journalists don't ask. For example, when Egypt was in revolt it was reported the military had check points around Tahrir square and nearly all the protest in Cairo were converging on the square. Journalists estimated crowds of 1 million.

At the same time, civil engineers with maps of Tahrir square made a mathematical calculation and found square could not hold more than 100,000 demonstrators. Which obviously means journalists exaggerated numbers by 10 fold.

Some might argue that the protesters also spilled into streets around the square. But I think we all remember the videos and photos which showed the streets around the square were not packed and the square held nearly all of Cairo's protestors.

This is another example which demonstrate how our western media has been instructed to hype revolt and encourage a western backed regime change.

Its not surprising that the protestors who gathered in Cairo last week were dispersed with military force. Now Mubarak has gone, the west is no longer interested in Egyptians who remain without a voice to govern their own destiny. But who cares, we can now talk about Tunisian rap music? What a joke.

miriam   March 3rd, 2011 2:19 pm ET

John A,

This story emphasizes the role of art in exercising new-found freedom of speech.

Whether previously suppressed freedoms are bursting out in crowded protests, cartoons or music, all should be recognized as experiences that, although taken for granted by the West, are a novelty for the youth who have grown up under dictatorial regimes.

Kenjiro   March 3rd, 2011 3:22 pm ET

I will build a bomb shelter right now and store many food ::)

Peggy S   March 5th, 2011 9:31 am ET

For those of us who have nothing other than the newscasts to see, John A's comments are really important to balance things for me and I'm glad he takes the time to make them. Being one of those "insulated western people", it's only on the edges that I hear the western media plays an active role in pushing or pulling and influencing things which happen in different countries. For people sitting in the West, it's not easy to discern "the truth". What I ask for is that eastern people help us western people to understand–without yelling at us, without telling us we are stupid, without accusing us ALL of having a negative agenda. Help us to understand. Help us to have the entire picture. Don't just talk about it, show with facts and help us to understand your point of view. And on the other hand, if his comments above are correct about the numbers of people in the square...hmmm, help me journalists of cnn to understand. cnn is one of the places I look to for my news. Help me to have "the truth" and not something fabricated.

John A   March 6th, 2011 11:23 am ET

Hi Peggy, thanks for your blog.

Hillary Clinton has asked for 40 Billion in funds for the state department, to help America gets its message across. She said, "America is losing the information war".

The truth is most people are turning away from American media, because it is an information war and not free and fair journalism.

Funny how people in Egypt now learning to speak freely without fear of consequence.

Tell me about an American politician who feels free to expose the crimes of Israel or bring to attention the many unanswered questions behind 911?

There are many taboo subjects in America, which leading figures do not feel free to discuss, because of the danger of losing their jobs.
Leading figures should be free to say what they want. Ultimately they can be found to be wrong or right, that's not the point. The point is to have the basic freedom to raise questions without being attacked by the media and special interest groups.

For example we hear Obama talk about the evil Gadaffi attacking civilians from the air. But the Russian military have observed Libya via satellite and say no such aerial attacks have taken place.

Every time America attacks Pakistan and Afghanistan with drones, its aerial attacks kill civilians. The biggest killer of civilians from air attack in the last decade are n°1 America & n°2 Israel.

But these facts are not highlighted on CNN, because it would imply Obama and Netanyahu should face criminal courts long before Gadaffi.

miriam   March 6th, 2011 12:46 pm ET

Peggy S,

Certainly, media reports cannot be relied upon, but if you distrust western media you shouldn't for one minute believe that "eastern" media is any better. Unfortunately, those living in the "east" are subjected to even greater dishonest reporting and propaganda and when they turn to the internet and social media, their sources of information are the same as yours at the best.

Unfortunately, John A is another source that cannot be relied upon. Although his anti-western views can correlate with views from the "east", his claims are more often than not taken from conspiracy websites and the like and represent the views of anti-government anarchists and others who are attracted to the idea of global chaos. Such opinions are not a balance to western media but opposition to anything western.

Obviously you have access to the Internet where you will be able to find every angle to any story including all types of western media that is far from being uniformly biased. The problem is, you will find yourself probably even more perplexed than you were already only relying on CNN.

Good luck!

Kevin   March 6th, 2011 1:17 pm ET

There has been much talk about the difficulty of giving international help to the anti Ghaddafi protesters due to the risk of infringing Libya's sovereignty. It seems to me the citeria now exist under international law whereby countries could legitimately recognise the opposition as the new government of Libya. The crireria required, as I understand it, are that to be recognised the opposition need to control most of the country (they do) and have the elements of a fledgling government in place (they do).
Following a request for recognition, countries that wished to, could recognise the so called rebels as the new government of Libya and would then be able to offer any support requested by the new government.

John A   March 6th, 2011 4:09 pm ET

Another thing Peggy,

The refugees at the Libyan boarder are economic refugees. You will not they all come from places like Bangladesh or Egypt. They were working on Libyan oil fields. Since the rebellion they have not been able to receive their pay, so now they want to go. There are NO Libyan civilians running from a brutal Libyan army.

The entire population of Libya is 6.5 million. It has 1.5 million foreign nationals. Thats 25% of the population!

Hence a quarter of the country leaves, as they are now unpaid foriegn nationals. CNN doesn't even try to make this issue clear. They pretend the country flees and mad dictator.

John A   March 6th, 2011 4:11 pm ET

"I meant you will note they all come from places like Bangladesh or Egypt. "

John A   March 7th, 2011 8:03 am ET

Miriam your constant smear campaigns don't work. Your pro Israel and pro American interventionalist words do not resonate as true, because they are not true.

As you haven't kept up with the times, let me tell you people are leaving your established media channels by droves. As with your blogs, the established media have been caught manipulating the truth on too many occasions.

People are intelligent enough to discover truth without Miriam and Proud Zionist constantly shepherding bloggers towards their pro Israeli propaganda.

Miriam, people are not sheep. If you want to be influential with your opinions you need to employ honesty. You should also try to respect humanity, instead of seeking chances to exploit it.

miriam   March 7th, 2011 4:11 pm ET

John A, the expert in manipulation,

It is obvious from my comment that media cannot be trusted and therefore it is false to claim that I am supporting any established media.

I would argue that many people share certain characteristics with sheep, particularly those who have followed their simple-minded brethren, being pushed around by intermediary propagandists at the command of myth-inventing and hate-inciting dictators.

Being one who is aware of such a human tendencies, I can assure you that it would be dishonest to parrot one- sided opinions without researching much deeper and examining opposing opinions in order to establish truthful arguments.

Contributing resulting honest comments to this blog demonstrates respect towards humanity as opposed to the deceit they are unaware they are being subjected to by conspiracy and distortion.

John A   March 8th, 2011 11:35 am ET


We can rely on your self righteous condemnation of anyone who see things differently to you.

Your self righteous condemnation of others discredits you Zionist position even further.

Cris   March 8th, 2011 5:55 pm ET

I can sum up everything in a nutshell for you Peggy. John is an idiot. Plain and simple. He does the cut and paste from conspiracy theory website and believes them like an Islamic cleric believes the Koran. John, it's time to leave your parent's basement, take the tin foil crown off and quit watching JFK over and over. (Back and to the left?) Just because you keep posting lies and misrepresentaions doesn't make them true.

Fethi Riahi   March 9th, 2011 11:24 am ET

To John A.
I totally agree of all the comments you made on this page. Western governments and subsequently western media are playing a huge role to making a change in the developing countries. In fact, when revolution started in Tunisia, nobody had the intention to put his noes in that story (pretending it is an "internal national issue!!"), but later everybody has taken a slice from the cake: Mrs Clinton, Ubama, CNN, BBC, facebook, Wikileaks..etc.
It is obvious that those people who had intensified revolutions are now struggling to make it a habit in the ME!! Personnally I don't believe the refugees are escaping from Libya because Gaddafi's regime is chasing them (that's what all manipulated media are telling us!), but simply beacuse they are afraid of being "casualty of war" and also because they don't have the means of living: MONEY.
To Miriam,
Please stay home, look after your kids. This blog is made for people with minds!!!

John A   March 9th, 2011 12:17 pm ET

Cris, you are like all the other pro Zion bloggers who try to debate with me.

I introduce subject matter, you introduce insults and unfounded allegations.

Like most Zion supporters you expose yourself to be redundant of thought and engaged in aggression, not just in Israel but also against bloggers, thoughts and opinions.

You might not be smart enough to see it, but your words show that you are little more than the type of despot middle east dictator you pretend to be superior than.

So Cris if you have an utterly primitive need to slap my cheek, I will offer you the other. In time you will learn the insults and aggression are no match for the power of truth.

Filipe   March 10th, 2011 4:42 pm ET

John A,

You wouldn't know the truth if it smacked you in the face. You can whine and cry all you want about the inaccuracies and bias of the western media--- but it appears that you spend most of your waking hours cluded to the blogs of just such biased media.

Why is that ???

Take a break, go catch the truth somewhere else.

Since you claim not to be an American, why is it you spend so much time whacking the Obama, Clinton and the US government ???

Can you not find fault with own governments' participation and involvement in world affairs???

By the way, who might that be ?

John A   March 17th, 2011 9:43 am ET

Flipe you are a joke. What I said to Cris can be repeated with you.

You are like all the other pro Zion bloggers who try to debate with me.

I introduce subject matter, you introduce insults and unfounded allegations.

Like most Zion supporters you expose yourself to be redundant of thought and engaged in aggression, not just in Israel but also against bloggers, thoughts and opinions.

Filipe, You might not be smart enough to see it, but your words show that you are little more than the type of despot middle east dictator you pretend to be superior than.

John A   March 23rd, 2011 12:08 pm ET


If name calling is all you have left, I guess thats your way of admitting you have totally lost the intellectual debate.

It not a big victory for me, as your light weight status never had any credibility to begin with.

Are there any other pro Israeli Zionists who want to try an intellectual debate?
Or are you all going to run from the truth and call me names?

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