Fans of Moroccan pop star threaten woman who said he raped her

Saad Lamjarred became famous in 2007 when he finished second on talent show Super Star, a Lebanese version of American Idol.
Saad Lamjarred became famous in 2007 when he finished second on talent show Super Star, a Lebanese version of American Idol.PHOTO: SAAD LAMJARRED/ INSTAGRAM

MARRAKECH (Morocco) • A woman who said a Moroccan pop star raped her is now in hiding.

His fans are after her and even the Moroccan king has assembled a legal team to help him.

Ms Laura Prioul, a 21-year-old Frenchwoman, said she was beaten and raped last year in a Paris hotel.

The man she accuses - 32-year-old Moroccan pop star Saad Lamjarred - has a music video with half a billion YouTube views.

Since she pressed charges last year, she had been so threatened by his fans that she has gone into hiding.

The case has reverberated through the Arab world and North Africa, where it has illuminated the risks women may face when they speak out against sexual violence.

This month, Ms Prioul released an Internet video, describing it as a desperate attempt to air her story, clear her name and protect her family.

After she pressed charges, Lamjarred was arrested and spent several months in detention in France before he was freed on bail in April.

He is awaiting a potential trial and cannot leave France. Lamjarred achieved fame in 2007 when he finished second on talent show Super Star, a Lebanese version of American Idol.

By 2013, he had become a star in the Arab world with multiple hit songs.

Lam3allem has been watched on YouTube more than 550 million times - more than any other Arabic music video.

Ms Prioul, then 20, was visiting Paris with friends when she met him at a club. He invited her to his table.

Later, with a small group, they decided to move the party to his hotel room. The others never showed up. They danced in the room and she let Lamjarred kiss her.

But when she would go no further, she said, he beat and raped her.

She then locked herself in the bathroom before coming out to get her phone. They had another fight. He ripped off her clothes and tried to rape her a second time, she said.

This is not the first time that he has been accused.

In 2010, he was also accused of rape in New York and left the United States while on bail.

A prosecutor dropped those charges last year when the American accuser withdrew her complaint, reportedly after reaching a settlement in a lawsuit.

After Ms Prioul's case became public, a Franco-Moroccan woman came forward in France and accused him of rape in Casablanca in 2015, French newspaper Le Parisien reported.

She also withdrew her complaint because of "heavy pressure" from relations close to her.

But under French law, it is generally up to the prosecutor to decide whether an investigation should go forward, and the case is still being probed.

"I will never accept money to withdraw my complaint," Ms Prioul said in her video.

"I want that person to end up behind bars."

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 29, 2017, with the headline 'Fans of Moroccan pop star threaten woman who said he raped her'. Print Edition | Subscribe