A world where a man charged in recurrent rape cases continues to be celebrated, as is the case with Moroccan singer Saad Lamjarred, is simple proof that misogyny is a deep-rooted problem.
Over the past few years, Lamjarred was accused of rape in three separate cases, two filed in France and one in the U.S. However, he nonchalantly kept his career going in the region as if nothing had happened. His songs continued to be posted on YouTube, garnering millions of views.
The video-sharing company had no problem with the fact that an accused rapist was uploading songs via their platform, but recently removed two of his videos due to "copyright breaches."
Earlier this week, Lamjarred's hit summer track Ensay (Forget) - which features Egyptian actor Mohammed Ramadan - was taken off the platform, with YouTube citing copyright infringement as the reason.
Last month, another one of the singer's music videos, titled Salam, was also deleted after Moroccan artist Hicham Telmoudi accused Lamjarred of plagiarism. The song was later re-uploaded after its producer settled the copyright case.
It's certainly rightful for action to be taken against Lamjarred for overriding copyright law but one can't but question why he wasn't also held accountable for sexually harassing women. Why weren't his songs taken offline when he was accused of rape, not one, not two, but three times?
The "Me Too" movement in the U.S. forced tens of men, namely Harvey Weinstein, out of the entertainment industry; it makes absolutely no sense why international platforms like YouTube aren't taking a stance against Lamjarred.
Some argue that the singer was jailed and taken to court over the charges which means he paid his dues. Others claim the fact that he was released is proof of his innocence (though it's really not).
The singer has a criminal record when it comes to rape cases. A U.S. court indicted him of one back in 2016 after a woman accused him of physically and sexually assaulting her in Brooklyn in 2010. The singer allegedly fled the country after posting bail in the case.
Months after being indicted in the U.S., Lamjarred was arrested in another rape case in France. He was later released on bail but banned from leaving the country. In 2018, another victim accused him of raping and physically assaulting her. He was arrested yet again and later released on probation after posting a bail of €150,000 ($166,000).
Lamjarred returned to Morocco in August for a visit after months of being unable to leave France due to his legal troubles.
Trying to restore Lamjarred's image only serves to normalize his actions
The singer has constantly denied rape accusations, dismissing them as attempts to tarnish his reputation and ruin his "successful career."
Regardless of that and despite his release, Lamjarred continues to be an accused sexual offender, not a star to be celebrated. It's insulting to the singer's victims and all women that the latter fact is something people need to be reminded of.
Rarely has Lamjarred been held accountable over his actions by the public; fans, journalists, and even fellow Arab celebrities have constantly tried to dismiss his history.
As the man continues to be hailed and celebrated for his "musical hits," those who support him need to know that in trying to restore his image, they're normalizing his sexual offenses and that's unacceptable.
No, harassers don't deserve "second chances"
Lamjarred isn't the only Arab celebrity to be defended even after being accused of sexual harassment.
Egyptian footballer Amr Warda received the same treatment after tens of women accused him of harassing them. It all started in June when Dubai-based Egyptian model Merhan Keller shared several screenshots of conversations with 25-year-old Warda, who plays for Athens-based Atromitos F.C.
The texts featured sexual advances, pushy language, and revolting aggressive responses. After the messages went viral, other women came forward, accusing Warda of similar actions.
Instead of being shunned and held accountable for his behavior, Warda's teammates, including Mohamed Salah, suggested he be given a "second chance." But the thing is, sexual harassment can't be forgiven because it isn't a mistake, it's a crime that needs to be strictly punished and men need to understand that. They'll only realize how big of a deal it is when we stop undermining the gravity of sexual offenses and idolizing those accused of them.