As debates over free speech and accusations of “cancel tradition” proceed to simmer internationally, the problem final week emerged as a fierce rallying cry on the streets of Spain.A provocative Spanish rapper grew to become an unlikely figurehead for widespread protests and galvanized a debate about freedom of expression within the European nation.Pablo Hasél’s tweets and lyrics got here again to hang-out him, because the anti-establishment musician was imprisoned final Tuesday on expenses of insulting Spain’s monarchy and glorifying terrorism, sparking night time upon night time of protests in main cities throughout the nation, a few of which have turned violent. Hasél — whose full identify is Pablo Rivadulla Duró — missed a deadline earlier this month to give up to police to serve a nine-month jail time period handed down in 2018, when he was convicted over lyrics and tweets that in contrast Spanish judges to Nazis and referred to as former King Juan Carlos a mafia boss. He additionally made references to the Basque separatist paramilitary group often called ETA, which sought independence from Spain.Instead, Hasél barricaded himself in a college within the Catalan metropolis of Lleida earlier than he was ultimately arrested and jailed.”Tomorrow it may very well be you,” he tweeted earlier than he was imprisoned and after retweeting the lyrics that he was convicted for.”We can not enable them to dictate to us what to say, what to really feel and what to do,” he added.Spanish rapper Pablo Hasel, now imprisoned, poses in Lleida, Spain, final Friday. Pau Barrena / AFP through Getty PicturesHis supporters and people who decry the perceived limits on free speech took to the streets of cities together with the capital, Madrid; Valencia; and Catalonia’s regional capital, Barcelona, the place 1000’s chanted, “Freedom for Pablo Hasél,” and, “No extra police violence.”As tensions flared Saturday, police clashed with members of fringe teams who arrange road barricades and smashed storefront home windows in downtown Barcelona.Pepe Ivorra García, 18, a scholar within the metropolis who joined the protests Thursday night time, mentioned he got here out to peacefully assist Hasél and what he referred to as an “assault” on democratic freedoms which are “a part of the spine” of the Spanish Constitution.”I’m neither Catalan, nor pro-independence however I’m a democrat,” García advised NBC News. “I humbly contemplate it to be a humiliation and a democratic anomaly that in a European nation within the twenty first century there are prisoners in jail for his or her concepts.”Demonstrators smash the window of a financial institution following a protest condemning the arrest of rap singer Pablo Hasel in Barcelona, Spain, Thursday.Felipe Dana / APHasél grew to become an unlikely free speech champion after his case drew consideration to Spain’s 2015 Public Security Law. Enacted by a earlier, conservative-led authorities, the legislation prevents insults towards faith, the monarchy and the glorification of banned armed teams akin to ETA.More than 200 artists, together with movie director Pedro Almodóvar and actor Javier Bardem, signed an open letter final week in solidarity with Hasél.Human rights group Amnesty International Spain additionally condemned the rapper’s imprisonment as a “disproportionate restriction on his freedom of expression.”The so-called 2015 “gag legislation” has been a “step backwards” for freedom of expression and peaceable meeting in Spain, mentioned Koldo Casla, a legislation lecturer at England’s University of Essex and former chief of workers of the human rights commissioner of the Basque Country.”Public authorities got extreme leeway to impose administrative fines, with chilling results on peaceable demonstrations,” he advised NBC News.Casla mentioned though Hasél’s songs may very well be deemed “merciless or deplorable” they weren’t enough cause to use the prison code. He added that the furor created by his case ought to be a chance for lawmakers “to amend the prison code to verify it’s suitable with the best requirements of freedom of expression.”The debate has prompted Spain’s ruling leftist coalition authorities to announce it’s going to search to reform the 2015 legislation by introducing milder penalties and giving higher tolerance to inventive and cultural types of expression.Download the NBC News app for breaking information and politicsThe Spanish protests, nevertheless, ought to fear neighboring international locations, Patrick Breyer, a member of the European Parliament, advised NBC News. He mentioned Hasél’s case represented an assault on “reputable dissent” and ought to be of “nice concern” to the European Union.”Spain goes means too far, decoding and utilizing its anti-terror legal guidelines, and I’m afraid it’d spill over,” Breyer mentioned. “I feel satire, jokes and humanities are an important a part of society … and that it is counterproductive to crack down on this type of speech, and the identical applies to criticism of the police and crown — that is extraordinarily essential in a democracy.”A demonstrator hits a police van with a bat throughout clashes following a protest condemning the arrest of rap singer Pablo Hasel in Barcelona, Spain, on Wednesday.Emilio Morenatti / APSpanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez condemned violence on the protests.”Democracy protects freedom of speech, together with the expression of essentially the most terrible, absurd ideas, however democracy by no means, ever protects violence,” he mentioned on Friday.Not all Spaniards are supportive of Hasél’s case.Rafa Morata, 49, a major college trainer, dismissed the rapper as a “leftist extremist,” telling NBC News his arrest was not about his lyrics or tweets however as a result of he had been “glorifying terrorism.””His entry into jail has led to a debate about freedom of expression that his supporters have used to impress riots within the streets,” Morata mentioned, including that the legislation had unwittingly turned Hasél “right into a sufferer and a hero.”The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.Adela SulimanAdela Suliman is a London-based reporter for NBC News Digital. Sara MhaidliSara Mhaidli is a reporter for NBC News’ Social Newsgathering workforce primarily based in London.Yasmine SalamYasmine Salam is a information affiliate for NBC News primarily based in London. Matthew Mulligan contributed.