The Rapper Who Defied the King of Morocco
"ALLAH, the Country, Freedom!"
His stage name is L7a9ed (read L'haqed) meaning the outraged. But his real name is Mouad Belghouat, a 24 year old rap singer from one of the poorest slums of Casablanca, who recently became known for having criticized the Kingdom of Morocco.
His lyrics were so powerful and strong that L7a9ed became one of the most wanted dissidents in Morocco. One of his songs says, "These people are suffering in silence, crawling in the streets, tired of going round in circles… and what does HE [the King of Morocco] do? […] I am the one who is supposed to choose whom I want to consider holy! And if you want to understand us, come and live with us. Allah, the Country, Freedom!"
The official motto of Morocco reads "Allah, the Country, the King". L7a9ed, however, substituted the word "Freedom" to "King" -- a symbolic attack on the Kingdom, which he describes as a system of absolute power that has been ruling Morocco for the last four centuries, and based on royal notables, businessmen, wealthy landowners, tribal leaders, top-ranking military personnel and so on. Although his music does not appear to be particularly inspired, his critical message has a strong impact on the younger generation, especially as they see the events around them in the Middle East. As a result, L7a9ed's songs have become the anthem of the Moroccan protests.
Although Moroccan authorities were very disturbed by the young rapper's attack on the monarchy, as he was not violating any law, they could not act directly against him. However, An incident, however, was created or occurred, and the young rapper has ended up in prison.
According to the reconstruction made by the liberal Moroccan magazine Tel Quel, everything started on the night of September 9, 2011, when L7a9ed and some of his friends were distributing leaflets calling for a rally of the M20 group, an oppositional pro-democracy movement. At a certain point, L7a9ed and his friends were verbally attacked by a man who started shouting that L7a9ed was "the traitor." An altercation apparently followed, but according to the rapper and other witnesses, without any physical violence. Nevertheless, a complaint was filed against the young rapper for allegedly hitting on head the man who had been insulting him.
L7a9ed was then summoned by telephone to the police. Once at the police station, the rapper was not interrogated about the alleged violence, but about his political activities: "They were talking about my activities in my neighborhood," he said. After a few hours of questioning, the interrogator finally came to the real point: "You can sing whatever you want," he apparently said, " but do not mention the King."
The following day, he was questioned shortly by the public prosecutor and later on he was taken to the hospital to check his version. "While I was in the car," he said, "I heard a policeman telling his superior that the doctor in the hospital had refused to release a medical certificate for the [the man who had insulted him]." However, the man who bad done the insulting had managed somehow to produce a certificate for 45 days of disability. Consequently, after a prolongation of the police custody period, L7a9ed was officially admitted into the state prison.
Human rights organizations assesses that the arrest was political. The M20 movement organized demonstrations in front of security headquarters in Casablanca; supporting the rap demonstrations could have destabilized the monarchy. As a result, the young rapper was condemned to a term of four months, the same he had already spent in prison, and to a 500 dirhams fine ($60 US); he was released thereafter.
Today, Morocco has a new constitution. The king, however, still retains powers that go beyond what normally happens in parliamentarian monarchies. In particular, the king retains power over the head of government: he must give his direct or indirect consent over all decisions through his presidency of the council of ministers and the National Security Council. Not a single government decision can be promulgated without the king's approval: and when he may delegate his powers remains entirely according to his whim. This power and sacredness that is attributed to the king explains the overreaction of a system that is still anchored to the past.
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