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Third night of violent unrest in Catalonia over jailing of rapper

Protesters prepare stones and bricks to throw towards Catalan regional police force Mossos d'Esquadra during a demonstration against the imprisonment of Spanish rapper Pablo Hasel in Barcelona on February 17, 2021. (Photo by AFP)

Kusai Kedri
Press TV, Barcelona

The streets of Barcelona erupted in flames for the third night in a row in protest of the imprisonment of a rapper who has been sent to jail for slander, libel and the glorification of terrorism.

Rioters set fire to trash containers as they tried to set up barricades against the police. Over 80 people have been arrested and more than a hundred injured since rapper Pablo Hasél was led away to jail by the police on Tuesday after refusing to turn himself in.

His vitriolic lyrics and tweets against the monarchy, the courts and the police earned many adversaries, but made him popular across Spain particularly among the young and the disgruntled.

Musicians say they worry that the right to freedom of expression in Spain is being eroded. Many people across Catalonia and Spain, however, condemned the trail of destruction left by the rioting and looting over the past three days.

Under growing pressure from rights groups and the general public, the left-learning coalition government in Madrid said it was planning to revive stalled talks over the repeal of the infamous Citizen Security Law also known as "gag law". It announced it will scrap prison terms for offenses involving freedom of speech, but the rapper may not benefit from the announced reform.

As protests for Hasél become more violent and damaging to public property, the troubles of the singer with the courts have taken a turn for the worse with his sentencing for two and a half years for obstruction of justice and threat to a witness.

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