Last Updated: Mon Jan 10, 2011 10:32 am (KSA) 07:32 am (GMT)

Tunisia rapper critical of government freed amid riots

Protesters stage a solidarity rally in the Tunisian capital of Tunis
Protesters stage a solidarity rally in the Tunisian capital of Tunis

Tunisian authorities, facing a wave of unrest, have released a rap singer who was detained last week after recording a song critical of the government, the rapper's family told Reuters late on Sunday.

Police arrested 22-year-old Hamada Ben-Amor last Thursday in the Mediterranean Sea coast city of Sfax, soon after the online release of his song entitled "President, your people are dying."

"After three difficult days my brother has returned to us safely," the rapper's brother, Hamdi Ben-Amor, said without giving further details.

Ben-Amor is better known in Tunisian cyberspace as The General. His song was about the problems of youth unemployment, the focus of much of the unrest.

Tunisia's government said on Sunday 14 civilians had been killed in clashes with police in the past 24 hours, in the deadliest incidents since rioting first broke out nearly a month ago.

The unrest, over a lack of jobs for young people and civil liberties, has been the worst in President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali's 23 years in office.

The United States called in Tunisia's ambassador in Washington to express concern about its handling of the riots and possible interference with the Internet, including Facebook accounts, a senior U.S. official said on Friday.

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