Monday, April 09, 2012

Moroccan rapper charged for anti-police song

By PAUL SCHEMM | Associated Press – April 4, 2012

RABAT, Morocco — A Moroccan court denied bail on Wednesday to a
rapper charged with attacking the image of the security services in a song
about police corruption.

Mouad Belghouat was arrested March 29 after Morocco's National Security
agency filed a suit against him, and he is now being tried for insulting
state employees and official institutions, a charge that could lead to a
prison sentence.

The rapper, also known as El-Haqed, or "the enraged," writes songs about
corruption and social injustice and is involved in the pro-democracy
February 20 movement.

He also has written songs attacking King Mohammed VI for his vast wealth
and high ranking on the Forbes magazine lists.

The police accused Belghouat of posting a song on the Internet accompanied
by photos insulting to police, including one showing an officer with the
head of a donkey.

The judge denied a defense request for bail after the prosecutor argued
that the rapper presented a risk to the public order. The case was
adjourned until April 16.

Belghouat's lawyer said the montage accompanying the song was posted by
someone else and the whole case is just a political attack on a well known

"In the song, Mouad accuses certain policemen of corruption. This isn't a
scoop. Everyone says so and international organizations confirm it," Larbi
Chentoufi told The Associated Press. "El-Haqed is in front of the judges
for his opinions."

It is the second time the rapper, who comes from a sprawling slum in
Casablanca, Morocco's largest city, has tangled with authorities.

Belghouat was jailed for four months last year for getting into a fight
with a regime supporter in the gritty, low-income suburb of Casablanca
where he now lives. His supporters say the charges were trumped up.

He was released on Jan. 12 in a case that mobilized the country's activist

Morocco was swept with pro-democracy demonstrations like many other
countries in the Middle East last year, but the king managed to defuse
popular anger with a series of reforms.

Belghouat has continued his activist work in poor neighborhoods. The song
he is charged for, called "Dogs of the State," is addressed to the police.

"You are paid to protect the citizens, not to steal their money," says one
lyric. "Did your commander order you to take money from the poor?" says

The song asks the police to arrest the wealthy businessmen who have
divided the country up for themselves.

Morocco, a popular tourist destination for Europeans, has one of the
highest discrepancies between rich and poor in the Arab world, according
to international development agencies.

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