UPDATE: Mouad Belghouat, known throughout Morocco and Tunisia as the rapper El Haqed (or L7a9ed), was released from Ain Borja prison in Casablanca yesterday.
In 2011, tens of thousands of Moroccans took to the streets during the Arab Spring to confront their government on lack of transparency, justice, and opportunity. The song which acted as a call to action was “Baraka Min Elskate,” or “Stop The Silence” by El-Haqed (often stylized L7a9eD, born Mouad Belghouat.) El-Haqed’s roll in the demonstrations which came to be known as the February 20 Movement was not just behind the scenes – the activist rapper is well known for taking a leadership role in many of the movement’s demonstrations.
And the government of King Mohammed VI took notice.
Since 2011, Morocco’s government has arrested and sentenced El-Haqed three times, in trials which have been condemned by numerous international human rights observers as unfair, biased, and in violation of international law. On May 18 in Casablanca, El-Haqed was stopped, searched, and arrested by police outside of a soccer match on grounds of intoxication and purchasing tickets off of the black market – allegations which were shown to be false by both eyewitnesses and video of the incident, both or which were dismissed from evidence by the court. With this, El-Haqed’s third arrest and imprisonment since rising to prominence in the February 20 movement, it is clear that Morocco’s government has taken a stance of systematically persecuting those who dare to express themselves against it.
Morocco’s constitution “guarantees to the opposition the freedom of opinion, of expression, and of assembly.” Join us in making Morocco stand by its promise of human rights and international law by advocating for El-Haqed, who has been the voice for peaceful protest in Morocco for the past three years.