On 19 June 2015, a concert with the Morrocan rapper El Haqed was called off with 48 hours notice by the police in Casablanca. Right before the beginning of the show, Police allegedly blocked streets leading to the venue and asked the local power provider to cut electricity.
The concert was organised at L’Uzine, a private art space owned and funded by Thuraya and Abdul Hamid al-Tazi Association on a boat called Le Diwan 26, owned by the social business establishment Richbond.
The businessman Abdul Hamid al-Tazi stated that the authorities justified their decision on the reason that the concert had not been approved, and that the organiser had no concert license. Also, the authorities inquired about the legal status of the organising association.
The website of the Arabic Network of Human Rights Information, ANHRI, mentioned that the authorities justified the cancelation decision by saying that the venue was not fitted to hold such concert, since its capacity was limited and it did not have the sufficient safety conditions to protect the attendants.
Al-Tazi said that these were only the apparent causes. The hidden cause was that the rapper El Haqed was the one who would be performing at this concert.
Said Freemuse Executive Director, Ole Reitov:
“The authorities in Morocco seem to be very creative in their attempts to prevent El Haqed from performing. But rather than obstructing the artist, the authorities should engage in a constructive dialogue and point at a place they find ‘secure, authorised and cancellation free’.”
Police argued that L’Uzine had not applied to get an authorisation to hold the concert, whereas Al-Tazi argued that such an authorisation should not be necessary for this type of event, because it took place within the premises of the association.
Following the cancelation decision, many security forces were seen around the supposed concert venue.
It is not the first time for El Haqed to be subject to this kind of security harassment. It is generally believed that such security measures are not valid as they are only justifications used by the security forces to control and harrass the artists.
“My friends and fans outside are telling me the police are growing in numbers and are blocking the street,” El Haqed said as his phone continued to ring. “Those who organised this concert are also informing me that the police are threatening me to stop this from happening.”
“Index on Censorship calls on Moroccan authorities to respect freedom of expression by allowing Mouad “El Haqed” Belghouat and other artists to freely perform in the country.”
» Index on Censorship – 25 June 2015:
“I feel strong”: Moroccan rapper El Haqed defiant after concert is shut down by police
A former Index Youth Advisory Board member travelled to Casablanca to see Moroccan rapper El Haqed’s first concert in the country. This is her account of the police crackdown that silenced the 19 June performance.
Article by Mari Shibata
Source in French language:
» Telquel.ma – 20 June 2015:
Une fondation culturelle encerclée par la police pour empêcher le concert de L7a9ed
Sources in Arabic language: