Demonstrations and riots in Catalonia after arrest Spanish rapper

In several cities in the Spanish region of Catalonia, yesterday evening and last night, thousands of protesters went out to the streets after the police had arrested a known rapper. Riots broke out. At least 30 people were injured and 15 people were arrested.

Rapper Pablo Hasél is sentenced to nine months in prison for desecration of majesty and glorification of terrorism in his lyrics and in tweets. He stopped at the University of Lleída in an attempt to avoid his imprisonment. Supporters chained themselves around him, but could not prevent his arrest.

Freedom of expression

In Barcelona, Lleída, Girona and Tarragona, thousands of people went out to the streets. There were about 1700 people in Barcelona and 5000 in Lleída. In the city centre of Barcelona, trash cans and engines were set on fire and barricades were erected against the police. Bottles and stones were also thrown at the police. Similar incidents occurred in Girona and Lleída. In Valencia and Palma de Mallorca was demonstrated on a small scale.

The Hasél case has opened up a debate on freedom of expression in Spain. Critics believe that artistic freedom is too severely restricted by existing laws. Government parties, too, are not happy with the current law on the desecration of majesty. The Social-Democratic governing party PSOE wants the law to be revised. The left-wing coalition partner Podemos wants the entire law to be abolished.