Morocco's rebel rapper released from prison
Mouad Belghouat known as el-Haqed or "the Enraged," left and Abdellah Abaakil, an activist with the February 20 movement who introduced the rapper at the press conference, as he speaks to the media at the old slaughterhouse in Casablanca, Friday March 29, 2013. The Moroccan rapper, known for his social activism and protest songs, said he will concentrate on his music and studies after being released from prison for insulting police. (AP Photo/Abdeljalil Bounhar)
CASABLANCA, Morocco (AP) — A Moroccan rapper known for his protest songs said Friday after completing a yearlong prison sentence that he will be concentrating on his studies and improving his music and is unsure about further activism.
Mouad Belghouat's angry rap songs excoriating the gaps between rich and poor in Morocco provided the soundtrack to the North African kingdom's Arab Spring protest movement in 2011 that called for social justice and greater democracy.
But while Belghouat, known as El-Haqed or "the enraged," was in prison, the February 20 movement, as it was known, faded away as popular ire with the state was defused by a string of reforms promulgated by the king.
Mouad Belghouat known as el-Haqed or "the Enraged," walks with flowers received from activists after a press conference at the old slaughterhouse in Casablanca, Friday March 29, 2013. The Moroccan rapper, known for his social activism and protest songs, said he will concentrate on his music and studies after being released from prison for insulting police. (AP Photo/Abdeljalil Bounhar)
"I will concentrate more on my studies — I have my high school exams to pass in June," said a pale, subdued 26-year-old Belghouat to journalists and activists, showing only occasional flashes of his trademark irreverent sense of humor. "I played around a lot before, and in prison I discovered the importance of reading more."
The rapper appeared in glasses, which supporters say he now needs because of how his health deteriorated in prison where he said he experienced harassment and even went on hunger strike at one point to protest conditions.
Belghouat was convicted in May for insulting a public official over his song "Dogs of the State," which was addressed to the police. An online video accompanying the song portrayed a police officer with a donkey's head prompting the lawsuit by authorities.