When Loubna Abidar starred in a film depicting Moroccan prostitution, she didn't expect it to force her out of her home country...
If you haven’t heard of Loubna Abidar, it’s a fair assumption that you might not have heard of the controversial Moroccan movie, Much Loved, which made its debut at Cannes film festival this summer.
The film depicts a Moroccan prostitute (played by Loubna), and was largely credited with exposing an underground sex work industry that continues to thrive within the conservative country. But after clips of the drama were released online earlier in the year, the Moroccan government banned the film’s release, and Loubna found herself the target of relentless threats. One Facebook page even called for her execution.
But while Loubna – who is half French – has remained defiant, insisting that the film is important (and that society will come to see that over time), last week she was attacked at knifepoint – and when she tried to report it to the police, she says that they laughed in her face.
‘I went to Casablanca’s main police station in the middle of the night and was received with laughter,’ she said in a video she filmed after the attack. ‘The police officer said: ‘Finally Abidar, you got beaten!’’
‘All this for a film you haven’t seen,’ she added. ‘You’ve only seen what people have put on the internet. God help me.’
Now Loubna has fled to France for her own safety – posting a selfie on her Facebook page in dark glasses and a headscarf. But as the story gains momentum (especially in the French media), a spokesperson for the Moroccan police force has come forward to deny her claims.
‘We have no position against Abidar or anybody else, all citizens are equal and any citizen has the right to lodge a complaint,’ said the spokesperson, adding: ‘The duty of the police is to listen to him.’
But for Loubna, things look set to be tough for the foreseeable future.
‘I’m not scared to die for a film,’ she says. ‘But I hope that things will calm down and that Moroccan society will evolve.’
Watch the trailer for Much Loved here: