He denounced police violence in Tunisia, sang of liberty, women, alcohol and drugs. Then Emino, the popular Tunisian rapper, allegedly joined the ranks of the Islamic State (IS) group on March 18, much to the shock of his fans.
The popular Tunisian rapper, Marouen Douiri, known by his stage name Emino, joined the Islamic State group on March 18, according to a photo posted on Facebook. In the photo we see the young man in Raqqa, Syria, with the Islamic State group flag behind him.
What prompted this “bad boy” to take to religious fanaticism?
Ghazi Mrabet, the rapper’s lawyer, says that Douiri changed after two years in prison in 2013 for possession of cannabis. “His reaction was to say, ‘I’m fed up, either you leave this country or lose all hope’,” said Mrabet.
On social media, many still doubt his conversion, in part because Douiri’s affiliation with the Islamic State group is the antithesis of the life he had been living.
“The last time I saw Emino was in his studio in 2013 in Tunis, he was having his morning Jack Daniels and a joint,” tweeted David Thomson, RFI journalist and specialist in the region.
Last year, Douiri stopped rapping and began praying. “He didn’t want to speak about his appeals process anymore, and told me he no longer cared about the justice system,” Mrabet told the French daily Le Figaro. Mrabet says he “understands today that the efforts of his client were dictated by a Salafist vision rejecting society and its institutions”.
Wassim Nasr, France 24 journalist and specialist in jihadist movements, says that this is not the first time that rappers have joined the IS group.
“The most well known example is Deso Dogg, a German rapper who went to fight alongside members of IS and who now writes jihadist hymns in Germany,” Nasr said.
One of the possible explanations for these “turnarounds”, according to Nasr, can be found in a “rebellion against the system” but also “in a denial and search for redemption of their past life of debauchery (like money, drugs, alcohol)”.