Angry youths rattle Spain in support of jailed rap artist

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) – The imprisonment of a rap artist for his music praising terrorist violence and insulting the Spanish monarchy has sparked a powder keg of pent-up rage this week in the southern European country.

The arrest of Pablo Hasél took thousands of people to the streets for various reasons.

Under the banner of free speech, many Spaniards firmly oppose putting an artist behind bars for his words and tweets. They are demanding that Spain’s left-wing government keep its promise and overturn the public security law passed by the former conservative government that was used to prosecute Hasél and other artists.

Hasél’s imprisonment to serve a nine-month sentence on Tuesday also created a source of frustration among young Spaniards, who have the highest unemployment rate in the European Union. Four out of ten eligible workers under 25 are unemployed.

“I think that what we are currently experiencing with the cases of Pablo Hasél (…) and other rappers politically detained by this regime is a brutal attack on freedom of expression,” said Pablo Castilla, a 26-year-old student. during a demonstration in Barcelona. “The protests are brutally suppressed by the supposedly progressive national government and the Catalan government.

“They attack us young people because we show our anger.”

For many, Hasel’s case also represents what they see as a backlash from a state whose very structure is in need of deep reform.

The words of Hasél that strike King Felipe VI and his father, King Emeritus Juan Carlos I, are linked to a growing public debate about the future of the Spanish parliamentary monarchy. Undisputed outside the fringe circles of the left until the last decade, the royal household has been plagued by a financial scandal that has reached Juan Carlos himself. Many Spaniards were dismayed when the former monarch left Spain for the United Arab Emirates amid a judicial investigation into his alleged tax irregularities.

In addition to shouting its support for Hasél, a crowd gathered on Saturday in Madrid chanted “Where is the change? Where is the progress? And “Juan Carlos de Borbón, womanizer and thief.”

The debate sparked tensions within Spain’s left-wing coalition government. While Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and his Socialist Party support the parliamentary monarchy that Spain has had since the end of Francisco Franco’s dictatorship in the 1970s, their minor partner, the upstart United We Can party, wants to get rid of the monarchy and supported this week. protests for Hasél despite their violent turn.

The anti-monarchical tendency of the demonstrations crosses Spain. But in the region of origin of Hasél, in Catalonia, an already tense political climate seems to amplify the outcry.

This week’s protests lack widespread calls for Catalonia’s independence or flags supporting the secession of the industrial region. Despite this, Barcelona City Hall’s public security chief said many of the more violent offenders were also heavily involved in the 2019 riots that followed the imprisonment of several leaders of the Catalonia separatist movement.

“It is a varied and violent profile that we already know because it is very similar to those who played an important role in the incidents of October 2019, so we know the type”, said Albert Batlle, member of the municipal council of Barcelona, ​​on Cadena SER radio. .

Some prominent pro-secessionist politicians have strongly criticized the Catalan’s handling of the protests police, who made more than 35 arrests on Saturday night …

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