Freemuse calls for the release of Moroccan rapper Abdul Mou’men Al Shuaibi, who was imprisoned after having criticised Moroccan Police in a song
Freemuse condemns the conviction and harsh treatment of Moroccan rapper Abdul Mou’men Al Shuaibi and calls for his immediate and unconditional release ahead of the appeal hearing.
Al Shuaibi was arrested in October by local police in El Araich and sentenced to eight months in prison in November for drug trading. In 2013, Al Shuaibi had released a rap song, entitled zan9a lkahla 2013 Chorta Fe Lara criticising the local police, their alleged violent practices against local citizens, as well as the lack of transparency and corruption in the police corpse. The song had received increased attention in 2014 after local media and human rights organisations referred to the song at events about the police’s behaviour, according to topresse.com, a local news website.
“Criticising the police in a rap song is not a crime. Al Shuaibi should never have been arrested and sentenced in the first place,” said Freemuse Executive Director Ole Reitov. “The Moroccan appeal court must stop postponing the appeal hearing and release Al Shuaibi immediately.”
Al Shuaibi was arrested at his parents’ house on 27 October 2014, when a group of police officers conducted a violent arrest and searched the house without a warrant, destroying the parent’s furniture, according to Al Shuaibi’s mother. The police report stated that an individual arrested for suspected drug use informed the investigator that Al Shuaibi provided him with drugs. No drugs were found during the search, according to local news reports.
The Association Marocaine des Droits Humains (AMDH), who has taken up Al Shuaibi’s case pro-bono, said they believe the drug charges where orchestrated by the authorities and that Al Shuaibi was targeted for his song criticising the police. According to Al Shuaibi’s lawyer, Al Shuaibi has had some history with drug usage but has never been trading drugs. Al Shuaibi’s father told the local news website Larache News that one of the police officers, who was involved in the arrest, came to the family house after the arrest, threatening the family that they would also be put in jail on fabricated charges as their son.
The chief of the local police stated to the local news website Yakin Press, that the arrest of had happened on the order of the King’s Deputy at Al Araich Court of First Instance, based on accusations against Al Shuaibi made by a drug user who claimed that Al Shuaibi was his dealer. The police chief denied that the arrest was due to Al Shuaibi’s song on YouTube.
On 17 November 2014, the El Araich court of first instance sentenced Al Shuaibi to eight months in prison for drug trading. No actual proof of drug trading was presented in court according to AMDH. During the case, his lawyer informed the judge about the police’s violations of search and arrest procedures including that there had been no warrant issued in the first place. The judge did not consider the violations according to AMDH.
His pro-bono lawyer, provided by AMDH, has decided to appeal the verdict. Al Shuaibi’s appeal hearing has been postponed several times. No new date for the hearing has been set yet.
Given his critique of the police and the violent arrest, Al Shuaibi parents fear that Al Shuaibi is receiving harsh treatment in prison.
Three musicians, including Al Shuaibi, have been imprisoned in Morocco in 2014 according to Freemuse’s annual statistic of violations of musical freedom of expression around the world.
‘zan9a lkahla 2013 Chorta Fe Lara’ was published on youtube.com on 15 March 2013