News24

Moroccan rapper held for anti-police song

2012-03-30 21:07

Rabat - A young Moroccan rapper who has emerged as one of the monarchy's most outspoken critics was arrested in Casablanca on Friday for a song denouncing police, a judicial official said.

"Mouad Belghouat was arrested and presented to the prosecutor, who will decide his fate," police told AFP.

Belghouat - a member of the February 20 protest movement, who has previously served jail time - was arrested when he and a group of friends demonstrated "violently" outside a police station, said the same source.

"These individuals tried to forcefully enter the police station and to use violence against civil servants."

The 24-year-old, nicknamed "Al-Haqed" (the Vengeful One, in Arabic), served four months in a Casablanca prison for assault but was acquitted of another charge and released in January.

The Arab Spring protests that last year felled Tunisia's dictator Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, Egypt's Hosni Mubarak and Libya's Muammar Gaddafi also inspired an unprecedented protest movement in Morocco.

King Mohamed VI offered significant reforms curbing his near absolute powers in a bid to preempt full contagion and called early polls that brought in a moderate Islamist party.

Belghouat was arrested in September after a brawl with a monarchist on charges his lawyers said were trumped up to silence the protest movement.

When he left prison in January, the defiant rapper told AFP: "There will be no turning back. Power to the people. Thanks to rap, I have committed myself for the people and its hardships. Our demands are huge.

"We need a new deal, there is too much injustice. They brought in a new government but thieves are still enjoying impunity. We need to get rid of that scum," he said.