By Alexandra Krauska
Rabat – A court in the district of Ouarzazate, in southeastern Morocco, sentenced Moroccan writer Aziz Benhadouch to two months in prison, in a ruling pronounced on August 2.
Benhadouch was found guilty of defamation. In his recently published book, L’île des mâles “The Island of Males,” he discusses issues such as religious education, sex education, and “ghost children,” and uses a local family as characters.
The controversial novel discussed “ghost children,” which is a term he uses to describe Moroccans who immigrated to France in the 1950’s and used to get birth certificates for children who were never born.
He must also pay a fine of MAD 1,000, and pay MAD 20,000 in damages to the two plaintiffs.
Behnadouch is a professor of philosophy and writer. He lives in Taznakht, a small town near Ouarzazate.
“The Island of Males” was written in 2004, but was published in 2014.
The first complaint was filed in 2015. The two people filed the complaint against him were from the same family that lived in that town, but Benhadouch claims that he did not know them when he wrote the book.
“They always feel that they are covered by my novel, but when I wrote it I did not know them at all. The story is fictional, the facts are unconfirmed, and all the characters are inspired by literature,” he said.
A first prosecutor ruled the complaint inadmissible, but another complaint was filed on March 23, 2015. This time around, Benhadouch was convicted. He is currently in Agadir, in order to appeal the ruling.