Morocco: Rapper El Haked is finally free

8 April 2013

After being arrested twice and serving a one year jail term for his critical lyrics ‘Kilab ed-Dowla’ (‘Dogs of the State’), Mouad Belghouat, whose alias is El Haked (also spelled: Haqed), is finally free, reported Jadaliyya on 2 April 2013.

El Haked

El Haked’s trial attracted huge crowds and brought international and national scrutiny on the supposed new reforms and freedom of expression in Morocco.

Under the new constitution, Article 25 states: “Freedom of thought, opinion and expression in all its forms are guaranteed. Freedom to create, publish, and display literary and artistic materials and scientific and technical research are guaranteed.”

On the surface, this appears to be a major reform but it is automatically nullified under article 263 that states: “Showing contempt to and undermining the honor of public servants or toward state institutions could be punishable with up to two years in jail.”

El Haked’s case brings to light the repressive laws that can land one in prison for producing a rap song or any other expression of art that is critical of the state. He has now become the main symbol of the February 20 movement and continues producing more protest songs.

“Art and culture constitute an important component for promoting collective identity and for recognizing and deconstructing hegemonic narratives”
Berstein/De La Cruz 2009: 738.

Promoting collective identity
El Haked’s outspoken lyrics are known for critiquing corruption, clientelism, the monarchy’s excessive wealth, and oligarchy.

The article in Jadaliyya analyses the role of music in the “Arab Spring”, and why hip-hop and rap is so menacing to the state.

The rapper’s lyrics “produce new politics of identity that challenge state centered and patriarchic systems, and serve as a gateway for the public to understand their nuanced grievances, and specifically for western countries to re-examine immigration policies, and political and social inclusion. Through this type of music, a true solidarity is built around the struggles of the marginalized. Issues that are of critical importance are articulated while inviting the public to participate in their own liberation through a form of cultural revolution and self-expression.”

Read the full article:

Jadaliyya – 2 April 2013:
Celebrating El-Haqed’s freedom: Soundtracking resistance
El-Haqed, a Moroccan rapper who just served a one-year jail sentence for his critical lyrics in ‘Dogs of the State’, is an example of how the country’s repressive laws are used to crackdown on free expression. By Houda Abadi
Republished on 4 April 2013 by Ahram Online

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