Morocco: Moroccan Rapper Jailed for a Year Over Police Insults

Rapper Gnawi's Instragram page.
25 November 2019

Rapper Gnawi cursed the police in a live social media post, but said he was drunk when he made the video. The singer said he felt he had been "mistreated by police" after they stopped him and checked his identity papers.

A Moroccan court has sentenced a rap star to one year in jail for insulting police on social media, sparking outrage among human rights groups.

The ruling against Mohamed Mounir, known as Gnawi, was issued by a court on Monday in Sale, northwest Morocco, near the country's capital, Rabat.

Mounir, a former military serviceman, was arrested on November 1 after he posted a video on social media citing mistreatment by police, in which he used expletives.

Critical music

Mohamed Sadkou, one of the rapper's lawyers, suggested the trial was driven by an earlier song recorded by Mounir and two other rappers, in which they spoke of a lack of social justice. The lyrics were also critical of corruption in Morocco.

The song, which was streamed live and went by the name of "Aacha al-Chaab" ("Long live the people"), racked up roughly 15 million views on YouTube.

Human rights group Amnesty International described the verdict as "disgraceful" and called for the rapper's immediate release.

"Expressing peaceful criticism of the police or the authorities is not a crime," said Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa Director Heba Morayef in a statement.

"International law protects the right to freedom of expression -- even when the opinions shared are shocking or offensive."

The decision by the court can be appealed.

(dpa, AFP, Reuters)

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