Another night of demonstrations in Spain on Saturday (20) for the release of rapper Pablo Hásel, arrested earlier this week for criticizing the monarchy, ended with a clash between demonstrators and the police.
In Barcelona, the largest city in the Catalonia region, the event brought together around 6,000 people, according to local police.
Some protesters ransacked shops and threw objects at officers, while police threw foam bullets (similar to rubber bullets) in an attempt to disperse the crowd.
In Madrid and other cities in Spain, protests were held without violence.
It was the fifth night followed by protests in Spain after the arrest of Hasel, sentenced to nine months in prison under the so-called “Law Gag”. He is accused of apologizing for terrorism and insulting royalty because of posts on Twitter and a song posted on Youtube.
On Friday (19), Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez condemned the episodes of violence recorded in some of the protests. “In a full-fledged democracy like Spain, violence is unacceptable,” Sánchez said.
Hásel’s arrest has sparked a debate in the country over laws that limit free speech.
More than 200 artists, including filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar and actor Javier Bardem, have signed a petition opposing the rapper’s arrest. The petition compares Spain to countries like Turkey and Morocco, where artists and government opponents live at imminent risk of detention.
The “gag law” was enacted in 2015 under the government of the conservative PP Mariano Rajoy. The stated objective was to ban the glorification of violence by armed groups such as ETA and also to curb insults against religions or the monarchy.
Since then, however, the law has been enforced very restrictively, imposing criminal penalties on legitimate critics of the state.
Despite being sentenced to nine months in prison, Hasél could see his sentence extended to more than two years as the sentence includes a fine which the rapper refused to pay – as have other Spaniards charged under the ” gag law ”.