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Moroccan rapper ElGrande Toto released after cannabis controversy

Moroccan rapper ElGrande Toto was released from police custody on Wednesday but remains under investigation for alleged “insults, defamation and threats”, a judicial source said, after the artist made public statements about using cannabis. 

The Casablanca-born rapper, whose real name is Taha Fahssi and who is a massive star in the Arabic-speaking music world, had in late September told reporters after one of his concerts, “I smoke hash — so what?… It doesn’t mean I set a bad example.”

That sparked anger in conservative Morocco, where recreational use of the drug is illegal despite the country being the world’s top producer, according to the United Nations.

On Monday, a Casablanca prosecutor ordered the musician detained after complaints were filed by several artists, a journalist, and a policeman.

But on Wednesday he was released after the artists withdrew their complaints, the judicial source told AFP.

A source within the rapper’s circle however said the journalist and the policeman had maintained their complaints.

He also paid a 20,000-dirham ($1,800) fine and apologised again for his comments, the source said, adding that he remained under investigation for alleged “insults, defamation and threats”.

The rapper had already apologised at a packed press conference in Rabat on Sunday.

Moroccan media say he remains under investigation for social media posts and public statements that may “contain elements punishable by law”.

The rapper was the most in demand Arab artist in the Maghreb in 2021 on Spotify, with more than 50 million downloads. His YouTube channel meanwhile maintains 2.7 million subscribers, with popular videos drawing tens of millions of views.

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