Catalonia sees a sixth successive night of protests over the jailing of rapper Pablo Hasél. Other non-Catalan cities also witness riots. The rapper’s music is said to glorify terrorism and slanders the monarchy.
The demonstrators, mainly young people, believe the musician’s right to freedom of expression has been violated by his imprisonment. The establishment sees Hasél’s songs and tweets as incendiary.
Peaceful protests descend into violence
Other demands of the protesters include ending police violence. There’s also a call for greater economic equity, coming after a year of pandemic-related frustrations.
Protests occur not only in Barcelona but Girona, Tortose and Valencia. In the Catalan capital, on Saturday, people attempted to make their way down to Plaça Espanya from the train station. A line of police officers and vans barred their entry into the square. The protestors headed towards Plaça Universitat.
The protests held every night since Tuesday follow a similar pattern. They start peacefully before descending into violent clashes with the police.
The Mossos d’Esquadra arrested seven people in Barcelona on Saturday night, five for looting and two others for public disorder.
Looting of shops
Protestors set on fire rubbish containers and a handful of cars and motorcycles in Barcelona. They threw objects at the police including stones and firecrackers. Police responded with foam and rubber bullets. Injuries to dozens of people include a 19-year-old woman who lost an eye.
On Saturday night, looting took place on the Passeig de Gràcia shopping avenue. The protestors targeted large chains stores such as Nike or Diesel. 35 people were arrested, most of them in Barcelona.
In Girona, bank branches on the Plaza de Independencia and Mercadal were the targets.
Who is Pablo Hasél?
Pablo Rivadulla Duró, or Pablo Hasél is a rapper from the Catalan city of Lleida. His music and tweets ‘glorify terrorism’ according to the courts and he verbally attacks the Spanish monarchy. Arrested on February 16th, his sentence is for two years and nine months for two separate cases.
His extreme statements in lyrics and tweets include supporting banned guerilla movements. He called King Emeritus Juan Carlos I a Mafia boss.
Hasél’s imprisonment has reignited the debate on freedom of expression in Spain. Many say the so-called ‘gag law’ is not enforced fairly and is an overly strict restriction on freedom of expression.
The rioters are not the only ones who support Hasél. More than two hundred well-known Spaniards recently signed a petition against the rapper’s imprisonment. According to them, this is an infringement of the artistic freedom of artists in Spain.