Morocco: Rapper El Haked’s sentence upheld in court of appeal
On 27 July 2012, the Casablanca court of appeal upheld the one year prison sentence given to rapper El Haked in May. The court confirmed that his police-critical song circulating on Youtube together with a ridiculing photo-montage was ‘detrimental to public servants’.
24-year-old rapper Mouad Belghouate, known as El Haked (‘The Rancorous One’), was arrested the second time on 28 March 2012, this time for insulting the police in a song called ‘Dogs of the State’ which has been circulating on YouTube.com with a photo-montage depicting a policeman whose head is replaced by that of a donkey. In May 2012 El Haked was sentenced to one year in prison and to pay a fine of 1,000 dirhams for this.
His song ‘Dogs of the State,’ denounce police corruption, injustice, poverty and social inequality in Morocco and has been circulating since 2008. El Haked confirmed writing the lyrics and making the song, but denied any connection to the people who did the photo-montage circulating on YouTube.com together with the song.
Se the photo-montage and hear song that put El Haked behind bars :
Despite the confirmed prison sentence, El Haked is still in high spirit. “His moral is good,” reported Freemuse’s partner in Morocco who is also a representative for Artswatch Africa in the country after having talked to El Haked’s family and friends: “So far El Haked has allegedly been treated well by the prison wardens, and he has been granted visits from his local campaign group, friends and family members.”
During the trial, El Haked’s defense team argued that the song was an artistic creation that should not draw punishment. Lawyer Omar Benjelloun reiterated that El Haked’s case was more about freedom of expression than anything else, and he stressed that he and the defense team are going to continue working on finding ways to get El Haked released.
Appeals and hunger strike
El Haked announced already in May 2012 that he would appeal the sentence, but in early July, two months after he had been convicted, he had still not been granted a fixed appeal date – the date of the appeal trial had been postponed three times – and this made him go on a protest hunger strike on 9 July. El Haked’s appeal trial was then set to 23 July, but was – once again – postponed to 27 July. On this day his sentence was then confirmed by the court of appeal.
Radio France International – 28 July 2012 (in French language):
Le rappeur marocain Mouad Belghouat condamné en appel à un an de prison
Bladi.net – 29 July 2012 (in French language):
Le rappeur Mouad Belghouat reste en prison
Al Ararbiya – 28 July 2012:
Moroccan rapper’s sentence upheld for defaming police