Moroccan Rapper, Gnawi, Has Been Sentenced to a Year In Prison for Criticizing the Police
The rapper was reportedly targeted after releasing a viral music video that spoke out against government corruption.
Moroccan rapper Mohamed Mounir, better known by his stage name Gnawi has been sentenced to a year in prison for a social media post in which he criticized the police, Al Jazeera reports.
The 31-year-old rapper reportedly became a target of Moroccan law enforcement after releasing the song "Aach al Chaab," which he co-wrote with fellow rappers Lz3er and Weld L'Griya. Though the government claims his arrest was not linked to the music video, and was solely based on a video showing him "swearing" the police.
The song's title translates to "long live the people" and it openly discusses the plight of Moroccan people by criticizing corruption, unemployment and abuse by the government. The song's music video currently has over 16 million views on YouTube and Gnawi was arrested just two days after its release.
Weld l'Griya 09 ft. LZ3ER , GNAWI - عاش الشعب (Prod by 88.YounG) youtu.be
One section of the song that has received the most attention, is directed towards Morocco's King Mohammed VI. According to the BBC, in Morocco "insulting" the king is a taboo and is considered a criminal act, punishable by up to two years in prison. The song's outspoken subject matter, reportedly came as a shock to many Moroccans.
In addition to the year-long sentence, the rapper has also been fined the equivalent of $103.
Human rights organization Amnesty International has denounced the sentencing, calling the Moroccan government's actions "absurd" and an "outrageous assault on free speech."
The organization added: "While Gnawi may have used offensive language to refer to the police, the right to freely express one's views, even if shocking or offensive, is protected by international human rights law. No one should face punishment for freely speaking their minds."
"I am an artist. My job is to defend my rights and the rights of the people," Al Jazeera quotes Gnawi as saying during his court appearance. "It was not the first time that I had been humiliated by the police. Since I was born, I have been humiliated."