Moroccan rapper jailed

This video is called Lawyers of Moroccan rapper charged with defamation urge release.

From AFP news agency:

Moroccan rapper jailed over video

(AFP) – 44 minutes ago

CASABLANCA, Morocco — A Moroccan court on Friday sentenced one of the country’s most famous rappers to one year in prison over a video critical of the police, judicial officials told AFP.

Mouad Belghouat, 24, is known for his criticism of King Mohammed VI and was arrested on March 28 by plainclothes officers.

His Casablanca trial was delayed several times before Friday’s verdict, which his lawyer Omar Bendjelloun called “severe”.

He said he would appeal what he called “a trial against the freedom of expression” and a sentence that also included a 90-euro fine.

The charge against Belghouat stems from a YouTube video of one of his songs, which includes images of Moroccan police officers.

New York-based rights group Human Rights Watch said last month Belghouat “denies any link with this video, saying unknown people made the montage of photos and music using a separate recording of the rapper performing the song ‘The Dogs of the State’.”

The song is one of the most famous of the February 20 protest movement that is calling for far-reaching political reforms and anti-corruption measures in the north African monarchy.

Belghouat, nicknamed “Al-Haqed” (‘the Vengeful One’ in Arabic), performs songs critical of the monarchy that deal with themes of injustice and inequality.

One of the most famous songs openly criticises the king and his fortune.

Mohammed VI offered significant reforms curbing his near absolute powers in a bid to preempt the Arab Spring protests that last year felled leaders in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, but still faces calls for deeper reforms.

During the last hearing before the verdict, the court had ordered a supporter of the rapper, Maria Karim, to be arrested and remanded in custody for “insulting” the police attorney.

The court decision led to the defence to withdraw.

“Because of the withdrawal, the defence lawyer’s final arguments could not be registered and the judge did not take this into account in his ruling,” said Bendjelloun.

6 thoughts on “Moroccan rapper jailed

  1. Rapper jailed for criticism of policing

    Sunday 13 May 2012

    by Our Foreign Desk

    A Moroccan court convicted a rapper of using a song about police corruption to undermine the security services on Friday and sentenced him to a year in prison.

    Rapper Mouad Belghouat, who goes by the name El-Haqed (The Enraged) was barred from making a final statement as part of his conviction.

    Mr Belghouat, who hails from a working class Casablanca neighbourhood, was kept in prison and his defence team wasn’t present at the sentencing.

    Defence lawyers said they would appeal the verdict.

    The rapper writes songs about corruption and social injustice and is involved in the growing civil rights movement in the US-backed kingdom.

    The song he was charged for is called “Dogs of the State” and is addressed to the police.

    “You are paid to protect the citizens, not to steal their money … did your commander order you to take money from the poor?” the song asks, calling on police to arrest the wealthy businessmen he says have divided the country up for themselves.

    Mr Belghouat was arrested on March 29 and charged with insulting state employees and official institutions he was accused by police of posting a song on the Internet with photos insulting to police, with one showing an officer with a donkey’s head.

    The defence claims the photos were posted by an anonymous person and the case is a political attack on a well-known activist.

    “This is scandalous. They think they will silence our voices with this type of sentence,” said Fatna Bik of the Moroccan Association for Human Rights.


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