'Marrakech crossdresser' case shakes Morocco

Chafiq's life turns into nightmare after road accident

10 January, 14:43

    (by Olga Piscitelli) (ANSAmed) - RABAT, JANUARY 10 - A man's life has become a nightmare after a road accident in Marrakech, Morocco. The identity of the man, Chafiq L., who was dressed as a woman at the time of the accident, was revealed by police, sparking homophobic and sexist reactions and a debate on the issue of privacy.

    The story has become viral and ended up in parliament. The four police officers involved have been disciplined for the way in which they treated the man, in particular for ''failing their professional obligations and not taking the necessary measures to protect the personal data of a citizen at the center of a preliminary investigation on a road accident''.

    NGOs and human rights associations have protested. Meanwhile the private life of Chafiq, 30, who spent 11 years in the royal armed forces, is ruined: with a three-month-long medical leave for the psychological trauma he suffered due to the accident he wants to leave Morocco and seek asylum in Europe.

    The incident took place after a New Year's Eve party, when Chafiq was driving back home and had an accident with a motorcycle. Nobody was injured but after initially driving away from the scene, Chafiq drove back to make sure the other person involved was fine. At that point, a policeman ordered him to get out of the car. ''I knew that if I got out of the car with that dress and high heels it would be the end'', he admitted the following day. ''I love to dress as a woman''.

    The policeman insisted ''in an aggressive manner'', as Chafiq explained to the prosecutor a day later. Meanwhile a group of people had gathered around the car to watch, filming the whole thing. Some people were screaming, ''we will kill you''. ''I like to dress as a woman, I didn't hurt anybody'', Chafiq later told investigators. People also filmed him later at the police station and posted the videos online.

    A day later, the images went viral on Facebook and YouTube, along with his address and phone number and his alleged shoe and bra sizes. Newspapers also published details of the story.

    ''When she saw one of those videos, my mother fainted'', he said, saying he felt humiliated, angry and scared. ''Nobody knew in my family''.

    With the support of the Alternative movement to defend individual freedom (Mali), Chafiq's case was raised in Parliament with Socialist MP Hanane Rihab requesting a response from the interior ministry. The general director of national security Abdellatif Hammouchi opened an investigation.

    Disciplinary action was taken against the four policemen. The national center for human rights followed the case closely. On January 8, Chafiq's case was heard by the general prosecutor of the court of appeals in Marrakech. And the case appears to be closed. However, Chafiq says he is terrified. He is not leaving home and fears for his family's life and has applied for asylum in Europe. ''Instead of protecting me, the police attacked me'', he said. ''I never hurt anybody - I'm simply like this''.

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