#Free Weld 15: Jailed Tunisia rapper gets solidarity message from Morocco

Two-year prison sentence for a song

RABAT - A Moroccan rapper imprisoned for defaming the police said Thursday that he has dedicated a new song to fellow Tunisian rapper Ala Yaacoubi, recently jailed on similar charges, in a "gesture of solidarity".
Yaacoubi, better known by his rap name Weld El 15, was handed a two-year prison sentence this month for his song "The Police are Dogs", the Internet video of which shows him aggressively insulting Tunisian police and judges.
Moroccan rapper Mouad Belghouat, who goes by his own nom de rap El-Haqed, said that he had recorded the song "with some friends in a gesture of solidarity with the Tunisian singer".
His new song, called Free Weld 15, has been posted on YouTube, with the video showing footage of Tunisian police chasing and beating protesters.
"In this song, which we dedicate to Weld El 15, I condemn the judicial system and the attacks on liberty and justice, and I defend his right to sing in freedom," the Moroccan rapper said.
"The Tunisian singer is a young guy like me who was convicted for a song criticising injustice, the police, and repression in non-democratic regimes," added Belghouat, who was released from jail in March after serving a one-year sentence for a song called "Dogs of the State".
Belghouat was a voice of Morocco's February 20 pro-reform movement born out of Arab Spring protests sweeping the region in early 2011.
He is known for his songs that criticised the monarchy and the political establishment.
Tunisia's Yaacoubi was jailed for two years on June 13 after turning himself in following his trial in absentia in March.
At his appeals trial on Tuesday he defended himself in the name of artistic freedom.
A new hearing has been set for next week.
The jail sentence has been strongly criticised by human rights groups, while senior EU officials have urged Tunisia to reform the criminal code inherited from the previous regime to guarantee freedom of speech.
Belghouat's video can be seen on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vFiwdgnmGF4