Spain: prison sentence for rapper Pablo Hasél

Spanish rapper Pablo Hasél was arrested and taken to jail on Tuesday after being sentenced to nine months' behind bars for glorifying terrorism and insulting the monarchy. In the lyrics of one of his songs, Hasél had called Spain's former king Juan Carlos a thief and a mafia boss, and called for right-wing politicians to be shot. Is the prison sentence justified?

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El Periódico de Catalunya (ES) /

Not a matter of taste

Putting an artist in prison for his words is completely unacceptable, argues author Miqui Otero in El Periódico de Catalunya:

“This is not a debate about whether or not you like what a rapper sings. ... Hasél's imprisonment (because we must bear in mind that he is going to prison for what he said and sang, and not for what he did) is like a bullet against the hackneyed idea of freedom of expression and against any democracy that wants to continue to lay claim to being one”

El Mundo (ES) /

The path to prison can begin with a minor offence

The rapper deserves this punishment, El Mundo says:

“There are reasonable people who understand the conviction but regret that it results in imprisonment. That's okay. ... But one must also not forget that the path that leads there can start with just a trivial thing. Escaping a traffic fine can take you from offence to offence and ultimately lead to conviction. And that appears to be the fate, if not the chosen vocation, of this Hasél whom they are now elevating to hero status while the masses make mincemeat of any ordinary citizen who so much as cracks a dirty joke.”


Advance of the new right

For Tvxs, the developments in Spain reflect a worrying trend across Europe:

“Tolerance of dissenting voices is increasingly hard to find on the continent. The easy path of criminalising free speech has become the norm for new right parties that have younger leaders but advocate old and dark ideas. ... They pop up everywhere with policy ideas similar to Trump's. ... We must accept that in democracies people must be free to speak out, and everyone's rights must be defended. Because otherwise no one will have any rights.”