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(en) France, Alternative Libertaire AL #282 - Mouad Belghawat (Moroccan rapper): " Morocco is like a big prison" (fr, it, pt) [machine translation]

Date Sat, 5 May 2018 12:17:06 +0300

Mouad Belghawat, in his thirties, is a renowned rapper of the Moroccan alternative scene. A libertarian activist, he is known by his artist name, Lhaqued. A figurehead of the February 20 Movement, which flourished in 2011, together with the Arab Spring, he exiled himself to Belgium. While in Nimes, Mouad evokes his fight. ---- Libertarian Alternative: What are the reasons that drove you into exile ? ---- Mouad Belghawat: I had several stays in prison because of my texts. I arrived in Belgium in 2015. On the occasion of a concert in Brussels, my brother called me to tell me that the police had come to my home to hand me a summons to the central police station of Casablanca. The prospect of being arrested, upon my return, as soon as I arrived at the airport, and to be thrown back into prison, pushed me to ask for political exile in Belgium. In the February 20 Movement, I was one of the initiators of the Casablanca protests. I was involved, above all, in the commission " creation " to draw banners, make graffiti claims in the streets and especially invent songs for processions.

Can you talk about your stays in prison ?

I was two years in prison between 2011 and 2014. The first time, four months, the second more than a year and the third time again four months. During these incarcerations, I was fortunate enough to be treated fairly well. A campaign was being conducted across the country to demand my release. At the international level, many artists and militant rappers talked about me. All the hype around my detention caused the diet to go on eggs. And especially since in the prison, the other prisoners knew me and supported me. Other comrades less known than me did not have that chance. In prison, they were tortured.

When you discuss with militant friends who knew the " years of lead " under Hassan II, in the 70s and 80s, how do you judge the evolution of the authoritarian practices of the regime of Mohamed VI ?

Today, with the use of mobile phones, we can film police violence. The diet is therefore more careful. Mohamed VI is concerned about his image abroad, who claims to be the " King of the Poor ". The revolt in the Rif shows, however, that the repression still exists. More than 400 people were arrested and tortured. Among the detainees: children just 13 years old.

Can you tell us a little about the rap scene in Morocco ?

This one was born at the beginning of the 1990s. Very demanding, in the years 2000, the regime understood that it had to domesticate it. The power has bought many rappers by offering miraculous contracts and facilities to switch to television or radio, provided to water the lyrics of their songs. From this betrayal appeared the other rap. The one in the street who shouts his anger against injustices, criticizes the system. Among the known singers of this conscious Rap, there is Orlando, Medhi Black Wind, for example. For concerts, however, it's complicated. I could not, for example, go on stage. The police systematically banned my concerts. This was the case in 2014. We had booked a large room in Casablanca. The police had come the day before on the scene, had broken our equipment, cut the power. My scene was, in fact, the demonstrations. There, in the middle of the crowd, the police dared not do anything! On the other hand, I went on stage when I was performing abroad. A few years ago, at a festival in London, defending freedom of expression, I won an award. It made me known and allowed me to play in Scandinavia, France, Holland but also in Jordan.

The interest in the world of protest and alternative music is to build bridges between different styles. Are there, for example, links in Morocco between this conscious branch of rap and the punk scene ?

Every year since 2015, the Hardzazat festival in southern Morocco brings together several hundred people who do not recognize themselves in the system. In this context: graffiti artists, actors and actresses of street theater, rappers and groups punk, hardcore and ska mix and play together. The music is different but the rage is the same. The problem is that this space of freedom is undermined. Last year, the police intervened at the festival venue to ban it. The organizers had to find, at the last moment, an alternative place to hold it, at the exit of Ouarzazate. This year again, the mayor of the city has already announced his willingness to ban it.

The last word, Mouad ?

Moroccan youth lives a terrible situation. There is no possibility for her to express herself. This lack of freedom but also a life of precariousness and misery, push young people to flee to Europe. Morocco is like a big prison. At the same time, the youth is alive. Two months ago, we celebrated the anniversary of the February 20th Movement. And in all the cities of Morocco, the people and the youth are out in the street. This proves that the anger remains and that it asks, despite the repression, to explode. The reasons to revolt still exist.

Interview by Jérémie Berthuin (AL Gard)

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