Moroccan Rapper Gnawi, real name Mohamed Mounir, has been arrested after releasing a viral track that denounced the Morrocan state. He has been sentenced to a year in prison, a move which several rights groups deemed “an outrageous assault on free speech.”
According to British news source The Guardian, his song reached and touched the hearts of the masses because the lyrics spoke candidly and truthfully about the struggles Morocco is currently facing. Supporters of the rapper are convinced that Gnawi became the target of the arrest because of his song “Long Live the People,” which contained the critical lyrics.
|Photo Credit via Al Jazeera|
In the track, he constantly referenced the crippling poverty in the country that has been plaguing Morocco and its people. As of late, Morocco is still dealing with state torture, drug abuse, and corruption.
With all these as the subject matter, it’s obvious why many people sided with the song. They felt that the song spoke to them; they felt heard. After all, discontent within the state has grown to 50%, that’s half of the total population and is already the “highest rate” of discontent in the Arab world.
The track was deemed an insult by the Moroccan government because it involved vitriolic language directed at the state’s police, as well as the king of the country himself who, in the song, was accused of having “Jewish blood,” an insult in Morocco.
Amnesty International already denounced the move as “absurd,” demanding that Gnawi be freed immediately, because his use of offensive language should not be a reason for his freedom of speech to be threatened in such a way.
|Photo Credit via The Philadelphia Tribune|
Lz3er, also known as Yahya Semlali, who was one of the rappers who recorded the song with Mounir, said, in their defense, that the song was not created to “point fingers or create controversy.” According to him, it was something they wanted to sing about because they were words that a majority of Moroccans wanted to say but do not have the power to.