Moroccan rapper Gnawi (real name Mohamed Mounir), has been sentenced to a year in prison for insulting an official state body, reported The Guardian on 25 November.
Gnawi’s supporters claim that the charge of insulting an official state body relates to Gnawi’s latest song produced in cooperation with rappers Lz3er and Weld L’Griya titled 3ach cha3b (Long life to the people). The song was released a few days before the arrest.
According to Yabiladi, the Minister of State for Human Rights Mustapha Ramid deemed the song as “provocative and offensive” to the authorities of the state.The artist was additionally fined with the equivalent of 93 euro for “insulting officers of the police force during the exercise of their function” in the post published on his social media profile.
“This trial has nothing to do with freedom of expression. This is a penal code matter,” said Police lawyer Abdelfattah Yatribi. Moroccan penal code states that insulting the authorities is “punished by imprisonment from one month to one year and a fine of 250 to 5,000 dirhams” for whoever insults or undermines “a magistrate, a public officer, a commander or officer of the law enforcement, either by words, gestures, threats, sending or delivery of any object, or in writing or drawing not made public”.
“Freedom of artistic expression is a human right that must be protected under national and international laws. Charging and sentencing Gnawi for exercising this right violates his basic human rights,” said Freemuse Executive Director Srirak Plipat.
The request for a temporary release of the artist was refused during the hearing on 25 November.
“I am an artist, my work is to defend my rights and the rights of the people,” said Gnawi during his hearing.
According to Freemuse research, the Moroccan government has previously silenced and condemned artists with views and beliefs they deem antagonistic. Freemuse supported the Morrocan organisation Racines when it was dissolved by the government due to complaint about hosting the satirical online show 1 dîner, 2 cons (1 dinner, 2 dumbs).
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— Freemuse (@Freemuse98) November 27, 2019