Rap battle: young Tunisians use art to combat stigma


Mohamed Ali Ayari, a rapper from an impoverished Tunisian neighborhood where unemployed youngsters are finding a voice through music, film, and photography, said, “We’re sick of being perceived as thugs.

The working-class areas of the Tunisian capital have long been neglected by the state and provided with subpar services; locals claim that because of this, they are unable to find employment.

Ayari, a resident of the packed Douar Hicher area, stated, “This disrespect and these prejudices definitely burden our life.

The 23-year-old is a security guard by day and a successful rapper at night. “I want to come out into the light,” he raps in a new video clip, made with the support of peace-building organization International Alert.

Ayari was one of the winners of a recent International Alert competition wherein young people from four underserved Tunisian districts were encouraged to express themselves through music, documentaries, or photographs with an emphasis on violence.

Violence is something that people encounter on a regular basis, Houcem Ayari of International Alert said. Some people participate in it, while others are victims. We made the decision to include that into cultural events.

Rapper Ayari records his newest song in a small room that has been transformed into a studio in a drab Douar Hicher building with the help of nearby neighbors’ backing voices.

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The lack of cultural venues, according to Ayari and his companions, makes it simple for people to get involved in crime.

The 22-year-old Wassim Tayachi claimed that he and his pals “chose music to communicate about ourselves and our life, the lost youth and those of us who want to succeed, the police who assault us verbally and physically, the state which neglects us, and society which stigmatizes us.”

He claimed that living in a less affluent area made it more difficult to acquire employment or obtain official documents.

Tayachi continued, “A state that doesn’t listen to its young people can’t provide them anything. Ayari declared his desire to succeed as a rapper.

Yet, he has concerns that he would be able to realize his goals in the country of North Africa, where a protracted socio economic crisis has driven many young people to attempt to reach Europe, notably by taking perilous and crammed inflatable boats across the Mediterranean. He claimed that rap serves as “therapy against sadness and unlawful temptations” in the meanwhile.

Another competition winner was a documentary that focused on the Fouchana neighbourhood and its social and economic injustices, sexual harassment, shoddy public transportation, and high absenteeism rates.

Mariem Chourabi, who qualified as a tax accountant and founded a facility to provide children with extra educational support — both by the age of 24 — is passionate about these concerns.



Roshan Amiri is an advocate for the truth. He believes that it's important to speak out and fight for what's right, no matter what the cost. Amiri has dedicated his life to fighting for social justice and creating a better future for all.

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