MADRID – Massive peaceful protests in several Spanish cities descended into chaos and clashes on Wednesday, with police arresting a popular rapper, Pablo Hasle, who jailed for glorifying terrorism and maligning the monarchy in tweets and songs To avoid punishment, he had confined himself inside the university. .
Mr Hasle, 32, was arrested on Tuesday in his home town of Lleda in the northeastern region of Catalonia, and his protests protested on Wednesday night, as demonstrators gathered in Madrid, Barcelona and other cities.
Violence erupted as people started chanting for the rapper’s release as some protesters burst bottles and opened fire as officers fired sticks and fired rubber bullets to disperse the crowd.
Mr Hasle’s conviction and arrest has sparked a national debate on Spanish rules on speech, which are among the most restrictive of the language considered dangerous to state institutions.
After Mr. Hazel’s sentence, the National Left Coalition Government said It planned to overhaul parts of the criminal code.
Mr Hazel’s original two-year sentence was reduced to nine months. But the fact that an artist can be imprisoned on the lyrics of the song or in comments on Twitter is the artistic community of Spain.
More than 200 prominent Spanish writers and artists signed a petition defending Mr Hasle, warning that Spain’s current law is a “threat to all public figures who dare to openly criticize the actions of state institutions” Huh.”
Protests against Mr. Hasley’s arrest began on Tuesday, When thousands of people took to the streets in Barcelona and other cities in Catalonia to demand his release.
Demonstrations continued on Wednesday and expanded to Madrid, the capital and other cities.
According to local news reports, the Spanish police on Wednesday detained 19 people in Madrid and 29 in Catalonia. The protesters were seen throwing stones and other objects at police, breaking windows and setting fire to garbage cans.
Journalists at the scene posted pictures and videos on social media showing a large crowd of protesters, many of whom were wearing surgical masks, locked in a riot gear against police officers.
“Pablo, comrade, you are not alone,” a crowd Chanted on Wednesday in Lleida.
Officials in Madrid said Wednesday that access to a central train station was restricted as a result of disturbances in “public order”.
Police officers and most of the young protesters also clashed around Puerta del Sol, a main square in Madrid, as some protesters sought to reach the Parliament House, which the police stopped. According to Spain’s news agency Europa Press, five officers suffered minor injuries in the clashes in Madrid.
The news agency reported that a Reuters journalist in Barcelona was among those injured when officers fired rubber bullets into the crowd. According to local news outlets, protests took place in other Spanish cities, including Granada, where four protesters were detained.
Mr. Hazel, whose real name is Pablo Rivadulla Duro, was a popular provocative writer before going to prison in 2018.
He has accused the Spanish police of cruelty, than the Nazis and expressed support for the judges ETA, a Basque separatist group One of modern Europe’s longest counterterrorism operations disbanded two years ago.
In 2018, the High Court of Spain sentenced Mr. Hasle to just two years for glorifying terrorism and insulting the monarchy. The accusations focused on her inductive tweets and a song she wrote King Juan Carlos, Who abdicated in 2014. A judge later reduced the sentence to nine months.
Last month, Mr. Hasley was ordered to report to prison by mid-February.
Public pressure prompted the Justice Ministry to say on Monday that it Planned to change the country’s criminal code To reduce sentences related to types of punishment violations to Mr. Hazel. The ministry did not provide information about its plan.
Mr Hasle was arrested on Tuesday after he and about 50 supporters barricaded themselves inside a building at the University of Lleida.
“They will never silence us!” He shouted to reporters as police escorted him to a patrol car, the newspaper El Paíz Reported. “Death to the Fascist State!”
In his last Twitter message, before conveying to Mr. Hasle Issued a warning To his supporters.
“Tomorrow it could be you,” he wrote.
History of spain Punishing people For comments made on social media, most are based on its laws that prevent the glorification of terrorism.
Some of these sentences have been handed against young and unknown social media users, but others have targeted more prominent figures.
A Spanish rapper known as Waltonich fled to Belgium in 2018 after receiving a prison sentence for the lyrics of a song that a court glorified terrorism and insulted the monarchy.
The rapper, whose real name is Josep Michaël Arenas, has since been fighting efforts to extradite Spain to Belgium.
Some of Mr. Hasle’s supporters include Spanish politicians, director Pedro Almodovar and film star Javier Bardem. Amnesty International His arrest has been called “an excessive and proportionate ban on freedom of expression”.
Esteban Beltran, director of Amnesty International Spain, said in a statement prior to Mr. Hasle’s arrest, “No one should have a criminal trial for merely expressing themselves on social media or doing something that is distasteful or shocking.” ” “Expression that does not explicitly and directly incite violence cannot be criminalized.”
But the rapper’s legal troubles may continue for some time.
Mr. Hazel’s nine-month term could be longer than two years because he has refused to pay the fine associated with his sentence.
Police are investigating him over alleged attempts to dismantle a government building in Lleida during a protest two years ago Carles Puigdemont detained in GermanyFormer leader of Catalonia.
Rafael Minder Madrid, and reported from Mike ives From Hong Kong.