Things are so bad in Iraq, protesters are seeing hope in porn star Mia Khalifa

One Iraqi demanded - in sarcasm - that she points out an Iraqi politician who is more honorable than her so he would seek his help. (Supplied)
Updated 08 September 2018
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Things are so bad in Iraq, protesters are seeing hope in porn star Mia Khalifa

  • The ongoing protests are against political system and poor living conditions mostly caused by Iranian intervention
  • 'At least Mia Khalifa comfort gives me comfort every night, what do our politicians do for us?' said one Iraqi in anger

BAGHDAD: Mia Khalifa, the US porn sensation of Lebanese origins is no stranger to protests and controversy. Indeed, ever since she shot up to fame as one of the most popular actresses on American porn sites, she has been the subject of protest and crisicisim across the Arab World. In particular, she has received heavy crticism in her home country of Lebanon, a country dominated by the Iranian-backed Hezbollah.

However, while some of her critics may like her in secret but disown her in public; Khalifa has recently proven publically popular in a very unlikely place: Iraq.

Protesters - angry at the political situation and poor living conditions caused mostly by Iranian intervention - have carried her picture and made comparisons between the adult actress and Iraqi politicians, who are infamous for their corruption and Tehran connections.

One Iraqi demanded - sarcastically - that she points out an Iraqi politician who is more honorable than her so he would seek his help, insinuating that there are none.

He said in his Iraqi dialect: “Who is more honorable than you, Mia, so I can complain to him?”

He pointed out that he found Mia Khalifa more helpful to him than most politicians in the country and the members of the provincial council.

The young man added that Mia gave him comfort, while Iraqi politicians were useless and incapable of providing the city with minimum life requirements, like water, electricity, sanitation, and education.

The city of Basra has been witnessing a wave of mass protests for the last two months in response to the deterioration of services, lack of job opportunities, and contaminated drinking water during this hot weather. Dozens of the protesters have been killed and injured in clashes with the police, especially after the protests have been renewed in the past two days.


Singer Lamjarred case reopens Morocco violence against women debate

Moroccan singer Saad Lamjarred (C) is escorted by police officers at the courthouse in Aix-en-Provence on September 18, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 24 September 2018
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Singer Lamjarred case reopens Morocco violence against women debate

  • Despite the string of allegations against him, the singer’s tunes have still been played on radio stations and Moroccan media have enthused over the release of his latest singles

RABAT: Still adored at home despite three separate rape charges in France, Moroccan pop star Saad Lamjarred’s latest arrest has reignited a debate on violence against women in the North African kingdom.
Following similar accusations in October 2016 and April 2017, Lamjarred was re-arrested last week in southern France on charges he had raped a woman in a Riviera hotel.
The superstar’s detention comes just days after Morocco was rocked by claims from a teenage girl, Khadija Okkarou, that she had been kidnapped and gang-raped by a group of men from her village.
Lamjarred’s detention has sparked a social media campaign seeking to ban his songs from Morocco’s airwaves using the hashtags #masaktach (“we will not be silenced“) and #LamjarredOut.
But the push has done little to dampen the popularity of the 33-year-old singer, whose hit “Lmaallem” has been viewed more than 660 million times on YouTube.
“The case of Saad Lamjarred is a symbol that brings together everything connected to rape culture and impunity,” said Laila Slassi, one of the campaign’s initiators.
Despite the string of allegations against him, the singer’s tunes have still been played on radio stations and Moroccan media have enthused over the release of his latest singles.
In August, he was prominently featured in a video of artists put out for the birthday of King Mohammed VI — who has helped cover the pop star’s legal fees.
Lamjarred’s fans remain convinced the singer, from a family of artists in the capital Rabat, is the target of a conspiracy and that his alleged victims seek to benefit from his fame.

“He’s famous, good looking, so we support him... it’s an emblematic case of sympathy for the aggressor in a society where we always find excuses for men,” psychologist Sanaa El Aji, a specialist in gender issues, told AFP.
Slassi said the media was “promoting a man accused of sexual violence” instead of role models.
Under pressure, Morocco’s Radio 2M has pulled Lamjarred from its airwaves, saying it “no longer promotes (the singer) since the case is in the hands of the judiciary.”
But Hit Radio, the kingdom’s most popular, was less clear about its stance.
The station’s head Younes Boumehdi initially said he would not broadcast the superstar’s hits, but quickly added the measure would only last until “things calm down.”
An on-air poll showed 68 percent of Hit Radio’s audience wanted to continue listening to the star, regardless of the charges.
Ultra-famous in the Arab world, Lamjarred “is still among the most popular on YouTube, and for many of his fans he will remain an icon, even if he is sentenced,” Boumehdi told AFP.
The case has sparked “a lot of emotion because Saad Lamjarred has the image of a modern man with a new message,” he said.
Radio Chada FM, which claims to be a leader in Morocco’s arts and music scenes, said it would not take Lamjarred off the air “until he has been tried, in the name of the presumption of innocence.”
But not everyone agrees.
“His song lyrics glorify male domination among couples... and the submission of the woman,” business leader Mehdi Alami wrote in a post shared widely on social media.

“It amounts to discrediting the word of women,” said rights activist Betty Lachgar.
Many like Lachgar have drawn comparisons between the #masaktach campaign and the global #metoo movement against sexual harassment.
But in Morocco, “most people don’t believe in this type of thinking, (for them), the harassers are the victims,” said El Aji.
Campaign organizer Slassi says the #masaktach movement gained momentum after the “Khadija affair.”
The 17-year-old was at the center of a storm last month after she accused a group of men from her village in central Morocco of having kidnapped, raped and tortured her over a two-month period.
Her 12 assailants have confessed to having imprisoned and raped her, and of threatening her with death, according to her lawyers.
“But for many, she remains the main culprit,” said Laila.