Join our Global Action Network to stop the persecution of rappers

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Rappers around the world are being targeted for their music.  

Since 2018, Freemuse has documented 92 cases of rappers being censored, arbitrarily detained, threatened/harassed or prosecuted for artistic expression.  The various grounds for these violations include hurting religious feelings and insults to the state.  These grounds are termed in many ways, but often relate to “defamation”, “insulting police and institutions” and “blasphemy”.  

Artistic expression is a human right. We need to come together and tell governments around the world to stop targeting rappers for their music.

Take the arrest and prosecution of Moroccan rapper Mohamed Mounir – widely known as Gnawi – who has been sentenced for “insulting police officers” over the song, “Aach al Chaab” – which translates to “long live the people. Viewed more than 15 million times on YouTube since it was released last month, the five-minute video rages against the authorities and criticises the country’s widening economic gap, the Hirak protest movement in Morocco’s impoverished Rif mountain region and a mother whose sons died attempting to migrate to Europe. The song also directly criticises Morocco’s king and his adviser, a criminal offence.  

Or the case of American rapper Talib Kweli who was disinvited to the Open Source Festival in Germany after he refused to denounce his support Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights. Attempts in Germany to impose political conditions on artists who support Palestinian rights, particularly targeting people of colour and queer artists, comprise a shameful trend of censorship, anti-Palestinian repression, and attacks on freedom of conscience.

Or French rapper Nick Conrad who was sentenced for “provocation” by the Paris Criminal Court for his satirical song "Hang the Whites”. The song provocatively explores the origins of racism and extremism in the United States through reversing the slogans used during lynching suffered by black people in America.

Or in Latin America the case of Cuban rapper Maykel Osorbo member of the  Movimiento San Isidro, a collective of artists that fight for freedom of artistic expression, who in 2018 was sentenced to one year and six months of imprisonment after a trial full of violations of his right to "due process” because of his active opposition against Decree 349 that contains vague and overly broad restrictions on artistic expression. After serving his sentence he has been systematically harassed and arrested without notice or apparent justification on more than one occasion by the authorities, because of his music and his denounces against the lack of liberties and precarious economic and social situation in the island.    

Since its earliest days, rap and hip-hop have been inherently political – through the spoken word, MCs explore society inequalities like anti-blackness, racism, political corruption and police brutality. It’s no wonder, states are increasingly targetting, detaining and jailing rappers around the world.

Artistic expression is a human right. Join our Global Action Network and stop targetted rappers.

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