“This is not a political case that should affect freedom of journalism but a case of a victim who was subject to sexual assault,” the associations’ statement reads, referring to the accusations against Soulaiman Raissouni.
Rabat – The case of Moroccan media figure Soulaiman Raissouni is causing a national debate involving public figures, LGBT community members and allies, activists, and journalists.
Raissouni, who is the editor-in-chief of Moroccan newspaper Akhbar al Yaoum, is facing “violent indecent assault and detention” charges after a gay man claimed the journalist sexually assaulted him in 2018.
The case also brought the attention of LGBT community members, some of whom targeted those people who support Raissouni and believe he is innocent.
LGBT groups in Morocco recently wrote a statement to criticize lawyer Abdelmoula El Mouri, who called for the arrest of the alleged victim, Adam Muhammad, for ”bragging“ about his LGBT identity.
Some observers claim that El Mrouri is one of Raissouni’s lawyers, but local media said the defendant’s family never appointed him to represent the journalist.
The LGBT group, in a statement that MWN received, express their “unconditional support and solidarity with” the LGBT community member Adam Muhammad.
The statement alleges that the human rights activist has been facing a public disparagement campaign since he opened up about the case.
The statement added that Morocco’s queer advocate organizations also believe the campaign is a “flagrant violation of the right to protect individual privacy.” This is stipulated by Chapter 24 of the Moroccan Constitution and Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as Article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Little acceptance for Morocco’s LGBT community
The controversy surrounding the case comes less than a month after a smear campaign targeted members of the LGBT community, who have, for years, kept their traditionally taboo sexual orientations or gender identities secret for fear of being socially ostracised. Sofia Talouni, a Moroccan transgender social media influencer, received backlash from LGBT groups in Morocco for launching a campaign targeting gay men in Morocco.
Talouni, also known as Naofal Moussa, called on women to download gay dating apps in an effort to identify and expose gay men living near them.
“So girls, you will go to the app store. You will type in the word ‘gay,’ and then a lot of gay apps will show up,” she said.
The groups defending LGBT freedom in the country condemned in their statement human rights activists who question and politicize such cases rather than allowing them to run their course and ultimately achieve justice for victims.
Several observers and activists defending Raissouni question the accuracy of the case, suggesting that Akhbar al Yaoum staff are targets of authorities due to some other alleged offenses among journalists at the same paper.
But the LGBT associations see the statements of “some human rights activists” as a violation to the case of Adam Muhammad.
“This is not a political issue that affects the freedom of the press as much as it is the case of a victim who was sexually assaulted,” the statement explained, calling on authorities to prosecute the “aggressor” if the charges against him are proven.
The statement also criticizes Article 489 of Morocco’s penal code, which stipulates same-sex relations are illegal, calling on authorities to abolish the legal text against LGBT citizens. The groups also call on authorities to enact a law to preserve the rights of Morocco’s LGBT community.
Under Article 489, violators face prison sentences of up to three years and a fine of up MAD 1,200 ($120).
Not only are same sex-relations “wrong” according to the penal code, but some claim they are also against Islamic ethics.
Some claim that same-sex relations contradict all values of Islam, which they argue condemns such ties, and describe them as “indecent” in the name of religion.
The case of Raissouni is still under investigation and the judiciary is the sole body to decide on it based on evidence and testimonies.
Raissouni, who continues to deny the charges against him, will appear before the court on June 11 for trial.