Student Duo To Miss Uni Exams After Arrest For Satirical Anti-Police TikTok

A pair of self-styled rappers have been arrested over a satirical TikTok song that joked about bribing police to be let off drugs charges.

The two students, named as Diaa Naseer, 26, and Yousef Shalaby, 27, who may now miss their university exams, were arrested as they left a cafe in the north-eastern coastal Tunisian city of Nabeul on 16th May, according to local media.

Investigators believe the lyrics of their TikTok performance were an insult to the police and the government.

The offending lyrics appear to make reference to the police trying to force the singer to do a drug test but being offered a bribe in return. The song is also reportedly critical of strict new anti-drug laws in the country.

The pair sing in Arabic: “Once in our neighbourhood, the police visited us at night.

“They pushed open the door of the house and forced us to do drug tests.

Photo shows the Tunisian students Diaa Naseer (left) and Yousef Shalaby (right), undated. They were arrested over singing a song criticizing police in Tunisia. (CEN)

“I told them to leave us and take two dinars.” 

Their lawyer Eman Al-Suwaisi says police have rejected a plea for to release them so they can take part in university exams.

Al-Suwaisi told local media that the song is satirical and not meant to be taken seriously.

But the arrests have provoked fury in social media.

One user is quoted in local media saying: “Tunisia is limiting freedom of speech.”

Photo shows the Tunisian student Yousef Shalaby, undated. He was arrested over singing a song criticizing police in Tunisia. (CEN)

While another netizen reportedly commented: “Please tell me why you arrested the two students. It’s just a song.”

Chawki Al-Halafawi, head of the Tunisian League for Human Rights branch in Nabeul, said: “The defence committee was surprised by this decision, especially since it was just a community song for a group of young people on social media.”

The General Union of Tunisian Students has reportedly launched a campaign to have the two men released.

The two students face up to four years in prison and if not released soon will be unable to complete their University exams, according to their lawyer. It was not revealed what they are studying or where.

This is reportedly based on anti-drug legislation that came into force following the 2011 Arab Spring revolution which has since been strengthened.