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Saad Lamjarred concert in Egypt cancelled after backlash over rape allegations

Moroccan singer's performance in Cairo pulled amid widespread attention on sexual assault in Egypt
Moroccan singer Saad Lamjarred's planned performance sparked a backlash
Moroccan singer Saad Lamjarred's planned performance sparked a backlash over multiple rape allegations against the singer (AFP/File photo)

A concert in Cairo by Moroccan singer Saad Lamjarred has been cancelled after a backlash on social media over multiple rape accusations against the artist. Lamjarred has previously denied all charges.

Last week, the Cairo Show theatre released a poster and details of a performance by Lamjarred due to take place in the Egyptian capital in December. 

Egyptian social media users were quick to raise concerns about the singer entering their country, citing rape allegations.

Arrests

Lamjarred was first arrested on suspicion of rape in New York in 2010. He later fled the United States after being released on bail. 

He was arrested for a second time in 2016, accused of physically assaulting and raping a 20-year-old French woman in a hotel in Paris. Morocco's King Mohammed VI covered the legal fees for the case, and hired a top French lawyer known for securing acquittals. 

In 2018, Lamjarred was arrested for a third time, in the south of France, accused of raping a woman in a Saint-Tropez hotel. The allegation prompted calls for his songs to be banned from Moroccan radio stations.

Neither the singer nor his business manager responded to press requests for comment on the show's cancellation, Reuters reported.

Online outrage

The Cairo theatre's decision to host the singer sparked outrage online, with Egyptians using the hashtag #مش_عايزين_لمجرد_في_مصر (We don’t want Saad Lamjarred in Egypt).

Some users posted an edited version of the promotional poster with the word "Rapist" written across it. 

Egyptian actor Rosaline Elbay, who plays a leading role in the critically acclaimed comedy-drama Ramy, called the decision to allow Lamjarred to perform "disgraceful". 

"When you platform men like this, you tell every woman in your cast, crew, and audience that her life and safety don't matter," she wrote on Twitter. "This is disgraceful." 

Several social media users attempted to raise concerns about the allegations under the Cairo Show theatre's Instagram post, however these were deleted or marked as spam. 

The show was eventually cancelled, and promotional posts have been deleted from social media. 

"It is already cancelled," Magdy El Hawary, head of the Cairo Show theatre, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, providing no further details.

Egypt's 'Me too' movement 

The fallout comes at a time of widespread public and media attention on sexual harrassment and assault in Egypt.

Earlier this month, an Egyptian court began hearing a high-profile case of alleged blackmail and sexual assault against former student Ahmed Zaki.

Cairo court begins high-profile 'Egyptian MeToo' case
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After Zaki's arrest, hundreds of women started to speak up on social media about abuse, sparking a #MeToo movement, prompting fresh allegations against several men and also revealing a rape case that occurred in a Cairo hotel in 2014.

Just this week, there was outcry after a woman from the Maadi neighbourhood of Cairo was harrassed, run over and killed by three men in a vehicle. 

A 2017 Thomson Reuters Foundation poll found Cairo to be the most dangerous megacity for women, and 99 percent of women in Egypt interviewed by the United Nations in 2013 said they had experienced sexual harassment.