Moroccan girl tells judge about alleged gang rape, torture

A picture taken on October 10, 2018, shows the entrance to the courthouse of the Moroccan city of Beni Mellal. Seventeen-year-old Khadija who has accused several men from her village of gang-rape, maintained her accusations today before an investigating judge, despite insults and threats from her detractors, her father said. (AFP)
Updated 10 October 2018

Moroccan girl tells judge about alleged gang rape, torture

  • Khadija alleged that the suspect was among the people who abused and held her captive for two months
  • Khadija’s case generated a large public reaction in Morocco

BENI MELLAL: A 17-year-old Moroccan girl whose alleged gang rape and forcible tattooing sparked a public outcry has confronted in court the only minor among the 12 suspects accused of assaulting and torturing her.
The girl, identified only as Khadija, was brought in through a backdoor for the court hearing Wednesday out of concern relatives of the suspects might attempt to attack her.
Recounting her ordeal to the investigating judge, Khadija alleged that the suspect, also 17-years-old, was among the people who abused and held her captive for two months, according to her lawyer, Brahim Hashane.
Because of his age, the teenager will have a separate trial on charges of human trafficking, abuse and rape, Hashane said.
His mother spoke outside of the court, where dozens of relatives cried for the release of the suspects. She claimed her son had never met Khadija.
The judge scheduled a third hearing for Oct.24.
Khadija’s case generated a large public reaction in Morocco. Violence against women is widespread in the North African kingdom, but largely ignored. More than 116,600 people signed a petition urging action to end a culture that turns a blind eye to such violence.
Twelve suspects were initially detained after Khadija was freed from the alleged captivity in mid-August, while three more were thought to be on the run. The young men face charges ranging from failure to report a crime to abduction, rape, abuse and human trafficking.
The girl has said two men kidnapped her at knifepoint when she was visiting her aunt during the May-June holy month of Ramadan. She said they sold her to other men in exchange for money and drugs. She claimed her captors gave her drugs that knocked her out for days at a time.
Reflecting the stigma associated with sexual abuse in this Muslim nation, the girl’s parents initially refused to report her case to authorities.


Protests rage in sanctions-hit Iran amid regime crackdown

Updated 6 min 26 sec ago

Protests rage in sanctions-hit Iran amid regime crackdown

  • Police officer dies in confrontation with protesters in the western city of Kermanshah
  • US condemns regime's ‘attempted shutdown of internet’

JEDDAH: Protests in Iran are a continuation of popular discontent among citizens, a regional expert told Arab News on Sunday, as a policeman was shot dead amid unrest at rising oil prices.

Maj. Iraj Javaheri died of his wounds a day after a confrontation with protesters in the western city of Kermanshah on Saturday, provincial Police Chief Ali Akbar Javidan said.

President Hassan Rouhani defended the controversial hike in gasoline prices during Sunday’s Cabinet meeting, arguing the alternatives were less favorable.

 Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei backed the sharp gasoline price rises and blamed the protests on Iran’s opponents and an act of “sabotage” by foreign foes.

But Dr. Mohammed Al-Sulami, an expert in Iranian affairs, said that Rouhani’s remarks “may be read by protesters as a sign of weakness from the government and thus lead to raising the ceiling of popular demands, especially as most of the slogans chanted by the demonstrators hit Khamenei personally and the regime of the Islamic Republic, burning images of Khamenei and attacking the headquarters of the Basij forces.

“The coming days remain important, especially if the protests continue until Friday,” he said. “The protests are expected to widen and increase in frequency.”

Access to the internet has been restricted since the demonstrations broke out.

Netblocks, an internet monitoring website, said the country was in the grip of a shutdown.

“Confirmed: Iran is now in the midst of a near-total national internet shutdown; realtime network data show connectivity at 7 percent of ordinary levels after 12 hours of progressive network disconnections,” it said on Twitter.

The internet curbs are apparently aimed at preventing protesters from communicating with each other and sharing videos on social media.

“We condemn the attempted shutdown of the internet. Let them speak!” US State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said on Twitter on Sunday.

Al-Sulami also said it was clear that US sanctions on Tehran “have strained the Iranian budget, making it move toward the easiest option to absorb funds from inside Iran.”

He added: “All this was the spark that encouraged the Iranian people to start a new wave of demonstrations.”