Rioting across several Spanish cities occurs following arrest of rapper Pablo Hasél on Tuesday morning in Lleída. As a result, the discussion around freedom of expression is flaring up again in Spain.
The police intervened in various Spanish cities, including Barcelona, Girona, Lleída, Palma de Mallorca and Valencia. Multiple clashes take place between protesters and police with shops looted and containers set on fire. The Spanish newspaper El País reports at least seventeen police officers and several dozen protesters injured in the riots.
Who is Pablo Hasél and what has he done?
Rapper Pablo Hasél had to report to the prison on Friday, February 12, but tried to escape his sentence and hid in the university of Lleída. Hasél received a nine months’ prison sentence for insulting the royals and glorifying terrorism. On Tuesday morning, the police stormed the university. Dozens of students were also arrested when they tried to prevent the rapper’s arrest.
Known for his extreme statements in song lyrics, rapper Pablo Hasél often throws tweets into the world about banned guerrilla movements. He previously denounced King Emeritus Juan Carlos I as a mob boss.
Freedom of expression in Spain
Hasél’s statements and his conviction sparked new discussions about freedom of expression in Spain. More than two hundred well-known Spaniards have signed a petition against his imprisonment. According to them, this is a restriction on the artistic freedom of artists and performers in Spain.
It is not the first time that an artist has been convicted. Previously, Spanish rapper Valtonyc fled abroad to escape imprisonment. Left-wing parties of the Spanish government want to amend the legislation so that artists retain this freedom. However, this is too late for rapper Pablo Hasél and he will have to serve his sentence.