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HRW calls on Morocco to free rapper

2012-04-18 19:15

Rabat - Human Rights Watch called on Morocco on Wednesday to free a young rapper critical of the monarchy and quash the case against him for a song denouncing the police.

Mouad Belghouat, one of the country's most famous rappers, was arrested three weeks ago and is now awaiting his next appearance in a Casablanca court on 25 April for a charge of insulting public officials.

"This matter is simply a matter of freedom of expression," the New York-based rights group said.

"Every day he spends in prison is a reminder of the distance between Morocco's laws and its practice, as well as the rights guaranteed by its new constitution."

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

Human Rights Watch said 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 20 February 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 openly criticises King Mohammed VI and his fortune.