A Moroccan court sentenced on Monday rapper Simo Gnawi to one year in prison for "insulting the police," after he and other artists released a protest song entitled Acha El Chaab (Long live the people), which sparked controversy in the country.
Moroccan authorities arrested Mohamed Mounir, 31, known as Simo Gnawi in early November in the city of Salé, near Rabat, on charges of "insulting government employees and a judicial body", as he published a video on Instagram earlier, which was allegedly offensive towards the security forces.
The song, which sharply criticised the country's dreadful condition and King Mohammed VI, went viral in Morocco with more than 15 million views on YouTube.
In court, on Monday, Gnawi explained that the insults he directed to the police in the video were "a reaction to the injustice he endured and the humiliation he was subjugated to by the police force."
The song has sparked widespread controversy on social media platforms and in media. Views were divided between those who condemned it as "offensive" with a "populist" content, and those who considered the lyrics as an expression of the Moroccan youth's despair and indignation of the current conditions in the country, which is similar to songs recently chanted by football fans.
Young people make up a third of the kingdom's population, estimated at about 35 million. According to a report by the Economic and Social Council (official), 25 percent of young people between the age of 15 and 24 are school-dropouts, and have no job or professional training.