Moroccan rapper ElGrande Toto arrested after cannabis controversy
Moroccan rapper ElGrande Toto was arrested on Monday following several complaints filed against him for public statements he made about using cannabis, reported AFP.
The 26-year-old rapper, who is the most streamed artist in MENA on Spotify, told reporters in September during a press conference of a state-sponsored festival, "I smoke weed, so what. It is normal."
The Casablanca-born rapper also talked about cannabis tourism and the facility to buy weed in the North African Kingdom.
His comments sparked an outcry in Morocco, with opposition parties condemning the government for allowing the rapper's performance at a national festival after "promoting the use of weed."
On Thursday, Taha Fahssi, known by his stage name El Grande Toto, was forbidden from leaving the territory by authorities after a Belgium-based journalist lodged a complaint accusing Toto of "incitement to consume drugs".
The Moroccan rapper apologised on Sunday to "Moroccan families" and whoever felt uncomfortable because of his statements or "the language" used in his songs and on stage.
"I offer my apologies to anyone offended by my words, starting with the authorities and my public," ElGrande Toto told a packed press conference Sunday in Rabat.
Late Monday, a prosecutor of a Casablanca court decided to place Fahssi in custody after other complaints were filed by "three artists, a journalist, and a policeman", reported AFP.
The local daily newspaper Le Matin said the rapper is the subject of a preliminary investigation that focuses on all his publications, digital content and statements "likely to contain elements punishable by law".
Since the start of his career in 2016, Toto has been frank about his use of weed, smoking it in live streams and rapping about it at national festivals.
His tracks on poverty, drugs, and love gained the Moroccan rapper international fame, mainly among youth, with more than 135 million streams in 178 countries. He was the most listened-to artist in the MENA region on Spotify in 2021.
Cannabis in Morocco had been illegal since the nation's independence in 1956, reaffirmed by a total ban on drugs in 1974.
Last year, the Moroccan government legalised using cannabis for medical and cosmetic purposes.
Nevertheless, smoking marijuana or hash is still illegal and religiously controversial in the kingdom.