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Rapper arrested for critical lyrics

UPDATE: Authorities urged to drop charges against rapper (Human Rights Watch, 18 April 2012)

(ANHRI/IFEX) - Cairo, 1 April 2012 - ANHRI condemns the arrest of rapper and activist of the 20 February movement, Megaz El Haked, by the Moroccan security forces on Thursday, March 29 claiming that one of his songs is offensive to a public institution.

El Haked was summoned for interrogation on a charge of offending a public authority by the Casablanca Court of First Instance. In one of his songs, El Haked criticized the political situation in Morocco, which authorities considered a defamatory insult against public officials. The activist is expected to stand trial on Wednesday 4 April and the authorities refuse to provisionally release him.

It is worth noting that this is not the first time that El Haked has been arrested for his songs. He was imprisoned for four months on trumped-up charges before being released in January 2012.

“El Haked's arrest for the content of his songs for the second time is unacceptable and is a clear violation of freedom of expression, which includes freedom of creativity and art,” stated ANHRI. “Freedom of expression is an inherent right and no one should be punished for expressing his opinions, whether that was critical of the system or not,” added ANHRI.

ANHRI calls upon the Moroccan authorities to immediately release El Haked and ensure that peaceful free expression is protected.

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