x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Jailed Moroccan rapper Al Haqed awarded integrity prize

The 24-year-old Moroccan rapper Al-Haqed (The Rancorous One) has received an award from the NGO Transparency Morocco.

The Moroccan rapper Mouad Belghouat, aka Al Haqed (The Rancorous One), jailed in July for a year for defaming the police, was on Saturday awarded a prize for integrity by the NGO Transparency Morocco.

"This prize is awarded for his honesty and the justice of his fight for an integrated and transparent society," said Transparency Morocco's chief Mohammed Sadok, presenting the award to the singer's father.

Belghouat, 24, is considered to be a public face of the February 20 movement, born in 2011 during the Arab Spring, which is demanding sweeping political reforms in Morocco.

He was first convicted in May last year over a song he wrote called Dogs of the State, which denounced police corruption and was deemed an affront to the entire police service.

During the trial, his defence team argued that the song was an artistic creation that should not draw punishment.

The main evidence against the rapper was a YouTube video containing a photomontage of a policeman whose head had been replaced by that of a donkey.

According to Human Rights Watch, Belghouat denied any connection with the video other than that it was set to his song.

More than 70 activists from the February 20 movement are now in prison or awaiting trial, according to the independent Moroccan Association for Human Rights.