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Jailed Moroccan rapper "prisoner of conscience": rights group

Moroccan rapper critical of monarchy on trial for assault - but will the charges stick?
Morocco jailed rapper 2012 01 11Enlarge
A picture taken on September 11, 2011 shows a young Moroccan holding a banner as he demonstrates in Rabat, during a protest called by the country's youth-based 'February 20' Movement to demand political and social changes and the release of Moad Al-Haqed. Rapper protester and 'February 20' Movement activist, Moad Al-Haqed, has been detained for four days, after he has been charged of the aggression of a counter demonstrator, his lawyer said. (Abdelhak Senna/AFP/Getty Images)

Is he guilty of assaulting a monarchist or just damning anti-monarchy lyrics?

The trial of Moroccan rapper Mouad Belrhouat -- also known as El-Haqed, or "The Sullen One" -- has begun in Casablanca, Reuters reports. He is being charged with assault after reportedly injuring a monarchist in a brawl.

But Belrhouat, who writes rap songs with searing commentary critical of the Moroccan king, is a political pawn for a regime cracking down on dissent, Morocco's most prominent rights group says.