Child Sex Scandal in Fez

Rabat – Hundreds of residents in the Fez medina took to the streets today in anger at the recent attacks on little children in the city. They were demonstrating outside the Court of Appeal where a 57-year-old French man appeared on charges of rape and sexual assault on two girls aged 11 and 14. A week ago, the defendant was arrested in a tailor’s workshop in the Medina after allegedly committing sexual acts on the two little girls. The girls spoke to Moroccan news outlet Alyaoum24 earlier this week. In a recorded interview posted on social media, the girls claim that the 57-year-old defendant had been grooming them with money and toys, promising gifts from France. Their identities are concealed in the film as they are filmed from behind. “When I refused to comply with his orders, he threatened me and told me that he would slaughter my family,” said one of the girls in the moving interview.  The 57-year old French passport holder was arrested on January 1. Asmae Kabba,  President of the Moroccan Association against Violence and Homelessness, is following the case closely and her organization is providing support to the victims. Kabba confirmed to MWN that during the first hearing on January 5, the defendant admitted to drugging and raping the two young girls. According to Kabba, the defendant has been in Morocco for approximately 18 months and has been introducing himself to locals in Fez as a tourist. The case has understandably attracted a large volume of media attention in recent days. MWN has been in touch with Khadija Hajoubi, another social activist and  President of the Nour Caravan association for Friendship and Social Development in Fez, who also represents the victims. Hajoubi informed MWN that the Frenchman was detained and questioned by police in mid-2016 for suspected sexual assault.Hajoubi added that an unidentified social activist saw the suspect with two little girls in the medina. After suspecting him, the activist called the tourist police. The defendant, however, was released after the parents of the minor girls affirmed that the French suspect is someone they know.On January 1, a barber in Makhfia caught the French man red-handed as he was committing sexual assaults against two little girls. The man told Alyaoum24 that when he looked through to the tailoring workshop he was shocked at what he saw. He added that there were two girls inside the workshop, while another girl was outside to make sure that nobody will caught them.Kabba told MWN that the residents of Makhfia, the neighborhood where the recent rape incident took place, suspected something unusual about the suspect.She said, quoting resident’s claims, that the defendant was treating the neighborhood’s children in a “special  way.” Nobody, however, could prove it until he was not caught red-handed.The barber, who gave his testimonies to both police and Al Yaoum24 said that when he performed the Isha prayer on January 1, he saw a girl waiting in front of the tailoring workshop, where the suspect committed the sexual assault against the two little girls.He said that he talked to the girl and asked her what she was doing there and suddenly she left the place in a hurry.As the barber looked through the workshop’s window, he saw the French tourist as he was committing sexual assaults against two little girls.“ I  closed the door of the workshop with a lock and called on people to come and see what was happening and I called the police.” Both Kabba and Hajoubi are working to support the girls financially. The social activists are also counseling the girls to overcome the incidents. Kabba has also hired a psychologist for the girls. Doctor Wissal El Mghari, told Morocco World News that the victims are not aware of what happened to them. “ They are not aware of  what they have been through and the danger they were exposed to by this man.”MWN has also received a copy of the suspect’s passport, but cannot reveal on his identity until the police investigating released his details.El Mghari said that she will be giving psychological therapies to the girls and counsel them. The psychologist said that the real struggle will be with the neighborhood residents “who might accuse or insult the girls, which is very dangerous.” El Mghari added that she has proposed therapies for the victims’ mothers in order for them to know how to treat their little girls, who were victims of rape.The defendant is still in custody in Fez, while investigations are underway to determine the circumstances of the incident. Another investigative hearing will be carried out next Wednesday.

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