3/3 © Reuters. Supporters of Catalan rapper Pablo Hasel protest in Barcelona 2/3
BARCELONA (Reuters) – Police have charged protesters who set garbage containers on fire and attacked banks in Spanish cities on Friday on the fourth night of clashes after a rapper was jailed for glorifying terrorism and insulting royalty in his songs. The nine-month sentence of Pablo Hasel, known for his fierce anti-establishment raps, has galvanized a debate on freedom of expression in Spain, prompting the government to announce that it would make expression laws less restrictive and sparking protests that, in Sometimes, they became violent. Two banks were attacked in Barcelona. Police charged the protesters in the city of Girona, northern Catalonia. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez condemned the violence that has marked the protests over the past three nights. “Democracy protects freedom of expression, including the expression of the most horrible and absurd thoughts, but democracy never protects violence,” he said at an event, promising “to expand and improve freedom of expression.” Over the past three nights, the police fired tear gas and foam bullets at protesters who set fire to trash cans and motorcycles and looted shops. There were also clashes in the capital Madrid and other cities. Authorities said around 60 people have been arrested throughout Catalonia, where Barcelona is located. A woman lost an eye during clashes in Barcelona, prompting calls from politicians to investigate police tactics. The human rights group Amnesty International called for legal changes in Spain, saying that anti-terrorism and gagging laws also unfairly limited people’s right to express their disapproval on the streets. “Spain is a country with freedom of expression, of course, but there are threats to that freedom,” Amnesty Spain director Esteban Beltrán told Reuters.