LONDON: In late 2019, over 50 women came forward and shared their painful testimonies of encounters with Lebanese serial assaulter Marwan Habib.
“He followed me into the showers after my boxing lessons and tried to corner me in one of the shower stalls. I pushed him out and filed a complaint,” read one.
“I saw him during the thawra (protests) and he tried to convince me to go with him for lunch and stuff when I told him I'm ONLY 15,” another revealed. “I'm a minor. He said he likes young girls. I ran away from him and he kept following me until I threatened to call the police. When I did call them, they did absolutely nothing.”
Despite the growing number of allegations, Habib remained free and continued to harass women across the capital.
Last Friday, Habib was jailed without bond after he was arrested for sexually assaulting a woman at a hotel in Miami.
Habib met his victim at a club, but later followed her to her hotel and then convinced the clerk to give him a key to her room.
Police told reporters that Habib had entered the victim’s room at Hotel Victor in South Beach on Friday night and then sexually assaulted her.
The arrest report stated: “Criminal Investigations Division has received various complaints about different females reporting the defendant’s odd and concerning behavior. The defendant is known to pursue females in order to have sex or date them even after they advised them to stop doing so on multiple occasions.”
While the Lebanese rejoiced at the news of his arrest, it was long overdue as multiple lawsuits filed against him had fallen on deaf ears.
Lawsuit has been filed as promised. Please I need girls to start testifying more and provide us with proof so we can bring him to justice. Please be brave dont keep silent. We have a solid case against him. We need to put and end to his acts. @mtvlebanon @joemaalouftv @AbaadMENA pic.twitter.com/pOxYBRNLB5
— Kareem Majbour (@KARIMMAJBOUR) December 3, 2019
Local news channel MTV invited Habib onto one of its shows in 2019 to respond to the testimonies - all of which he denied - and so he continued to prey on women in Lebanon.
In early 2020, an arrest warrant was issued for Habib but, due to alleged and suspected connections with a prominent political party, he avoided arrest multiple times.
“Marwan was caught at the airport upon his arrival to Beirut. His phones were detained for investigations and he was then released due to political interference,” read a tweet shared by lawyer Kareem Majbour. “Marwan is a threat to society and shouldn’t have been released.”
An Instagram page dedicated to exposing harassers in the country continued to document victims’ testimonies, even highlighting places he had been spotted at in order to rally people against him.
One such incident occurred when Habib was spotted in the popular restaurant Roadsters Diner, leading the Instagram page to call for a boycott of the establishment after it repeatedly welcomed him.
Serial harasser Marwan Habib keeps going to @roadsterdiner and they never kick him out. They blocked the @pervsoflebanon page for pointing that oiy. #Boycott_Roadster. They stand with rapists against women. pic.twitter.com/sAIm9yhoeY
— Hashem (@hashem_beirut) December 22, 2020
Now that Habib’s notorious exploits have seen the light of day in the US, many still look toward the Lebanese government for answers as to why it did not act sooner and whether it would act on future testimonies against others accused of assault.