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Morocco rapper rebel gets 4 months in prison

July 1, 2014

CASABLANCA, Morocco (AP) — A Moroccan court on Tuesday convicted a rapper known for his anti-establishment lyrics of assaulting a police officer and public intoxication and sentenced him to four months prison and a $1,200 fine, a rights activist said.

It is the latest prison term for Mouad Belghouat, who was previously sentenced to a year in prison for a song calling policemen “dogs.”

Known by his rapper name El-Haqed or “the enraged,” Belghouat was arrested in May outside a soccer stadium, allegedly for scalping tickets, though those charges were later dropped, said Samira Kinani of the Moroccan Association for Human Rights, who was present at the trial.

Belghouat’s lawyer had disputed the evidence presented in the trial, particularly incriminating statements allegedly made by his client whom he maintained had refused to speak to police.

Known for his songs slamming the gap between rich and poor in Morocco, Belghouat was part of the February 20 movement that held demonstrations for greater democracy in 2011 during Morocco’s version of the Arab Spring.

He was credited with popularizing the group’s cause in lower income neighborhoods with his taboo-breaking rap music. Protests subsided in the wake of a series of reforms put forward by the king.

In 2012 he was jailed for one year for his song “Dogs of the State” attacking police and their support for injustice.

Rights activists have said that little has really changed in Morocco three years after the reform promises and that the country now returning to the pre-Arab Spring oppression.

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