A man kneels on a skateboard in front of a burning barricade during a protest in support of Catalan rapper Pablo Hasel, after he was given a jail sentence on charges of glorifying terrorism and insulting royalty in his songs, in Barcelona, Spain, February 19, 2021. Photograph:( Reuters )
Protesters threw projectiles at police and at neighbours who condemned them for the disturbances
Violent protests over rapper's jailing continued in Spanish cities continued for fourth night as clashes continued to break out between protesters and the police. Pablo Hasel, the anti-establishment rapper, has been served a nine-month sentence and his jailing has opened fierce debate over freedom of expression in the country. This has compelled the government to announce that it would make speech less restrictive.
Hasel faces charges that accuse him of glorifying terrorism and insulting Spanish royalty.
Protesters threw projectiles at police and at neighbours who condemned them for the disturbances. Two banks and businesses were attacked in Barcelona. Police charged protesters in the northern Catalan city of Girona
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez condemned the violence which has marked protests over the past three nights.
"Democracy protects freedom of speech, including the expression of the most awful, absurd thoughts, but democracy never ever protects violence," he told an event, promising to "widen and improve freedom of speech."
During last three night, police have had to fire tear gas and foam bullets at demonstrator who set fire to trash containers and motorcycles and looted stores. There were also clashes in the capital Madrid and other cities.
As per officials, three people were arrested in Barcelona on Friday. One woman lost an eye during clashes in Barcelona, triggering calls from politicians to investigate police tactics.
Rights group Amnesty International called for legal changes in Spain, saying that anti-terrorism and gagging laws also unfairly limited people's right to demonstrate their disapproval in the streets.
"Spain is a country with freedom of expression, of course, but there are threats to that freedom," Amnesty head for Spain, Esteban Beltran, told Reuters.
(With Reuters inputs)