The comedian Lotfi Abdelli declared in a status on his Facebook account that he intended to leave Tunisia after the partial interruption of his show on Sunday night in Sfax, following a protest by some police officers against a joke by the artist. The rest of his shows scheduled for the summer have been canceled by his production, which believes that Lotfi Abdelli is in danger.
as reported from Tunis, Lilia Blaise
For more than ten years, this provocative artist has made Tunisians laugh with his criticism of politics and his puns on morality. But on Sunday, in the city of Sfax, where he was performing at a summer festival, his gestures and frequent use of profanity displeased some in the venue, especially when the comedian sent the police to be watched.
His joke caused the show to be interrupted for 45 minutes, during which we can see plainclothes agents protesting and talking about assaulting public officials, an offense punishable under the Tunisian Penal Code. The comedian defended himself by making a live video on Facebook and the show was then resumed.
But the dispute is far from over, Lotfi Abdelli said he wanted to leave Tunisia and that he had been robbed of what little hope he had. Its producer would also have been the victim of an attack at the end of the show, according to testimonies in the Tunisian media. On social networks, many internet users and cultural figures have supported the artist against what they consider to be an attack on his freedom of expression.
Others feel he has gone too far. In a press release, the Ministry of the Interior rejected the police’s refusal to protect the artist and also emphasized that the artist would have made an obscene gesture towards the police. The public prosecutor’s office has started an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident.