Protests in Spain

International Mar 09, 2021

Violent protest within a socialist-led government continues across Spain, after a week of protest and clashes following the arrest of rapper Pablo Hasel (Pablo Rivadulla Duro) for glorifying terrorism and insulting Spanish Royals in his songs.

While many rallies across Spain, mainly in Catalonia involved hundreds of people chanting and peacefully holding up placards, some turned violent with protestors throwing objects at police and setting things on fire. In turn, police charged at the crowd and started using batons and fired foam bullets resulting in one protester losing her eye.

When did the protest start?

The protest has been going since Feb 16th, when 32-year-old Pablo Hasel was arrested by police at a university in Lleida, a city in the Catalan region. Hasel barricaded himself and his supporters in the University to avoid the start of his 9-month jail sentence for which he was convicted in 2018.

Why are People protesting?

Known for his harsh-left views, Hasel was sentenced to 9 months in prison for tweets glorying terrorism and videos inciting violence. At issue were his lyrics and tweets where he defended members of Basque separatist group ETA and Marxist group GRAPO which are considered as a terrorist organization by the Spanish authorities. The court ruling said “FREEDOM OF SPEECH cannot be used as a blank cheque to praise the perpetrators of terrorism” he was also fined $36,000 for insult, libel and slander, King Juan Carlos, as a “MAFIA BOSS” and accusing police of torturing and killing protestors and migrants.

His case became a cause among many campaigners who say that jailing Hasel is a disproportionate response and a dangerous assault on the right of Freedom of speech. At the protest protestors also carried the Estelada the flag of the Catalan pro-independence movement, a social and political movement with the motto to seek independence of the State of Catalonia from Spain.

Freedom of speech and democracy.

The Protest was not just about Hasel being arrested, the arrest ignited people in Spain over Free Speech and the country’s democratic values. To many people, his jailing is an example of the Spanish Judicial System punishing a person not on their physical activity, but on their expression through songs, tweets or even an illustration. There are many across the country who support Hasel and his imprisonment and say that his lyrics and tweets are unacceptable humiliation of the victims of terrorist and they unlawfully incite hatred against the police and the country’s former King which according to Spain’s Penal Code is a crime.

Over the past week, the youth’s growing anger and discontent overwhelmed the Spanish Government. They say that for them what was more important was getting their voices heard. But the burning barricades, smashed store windows on the streets and many violent acts across Spanish cities tell a different story whole together. In Barcelona alone, five nights of protest has caused the city $1.09 million in damages.

This article has been written by Siddhesh Patil  for The Paradigm

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