October 13, 2014 – Reported by the Guardian.com – An Englishman, Ray Cole, and a young Moroccan, Jamal, are walking in the streets of the Gueliz district in Marrakech. They are not doing anyone any harm.
Some passing police think otherwise: they arrest them and accuse them of homosexuality. A judge then sends them to prison. The proof of their “crime” is the text messages and private photos that the police found in their mobile phones, which show their intimate relationship.
This scene, which might shock people in some western countries, is commonplace. It happens several times a day without the media taking any notice. What changes everything is Cole’s nationality. He is British. And Britain is not just any country. The image of Morocco, a land of tolerance and generosity (according to the advertising slogans), is very much at stake here. There is danger in sight: a disaster for the emerging tourism sector.
Quick, quick, let’s cover it up, let’s release the Englishman, we’ll deal with the Moroccan later, he’s not so important.
The Moroccan authorities took a while to react. And that they eventually did so was because Cole’s family and friends rallied round strongly on his behalf and began to create a fuss about his case in the international media.
And Jamal, the young Moroccan? What’s happening to him? Is his family at his side? Of course not. They would rather reject him: he is not our son. We didn’t raise our son like that. He is unworthy. Let him be alone in his unworthiness, his scandal. And anyway, what was he doing with that Englishman older than him? He must have been prostituting himself.
But Jamal is their son. The son of Morocco. He could be my younger brother, my cousin, my friend. Disowning our own children again and again to show the world our fictitious purity and righteousness is not the solution. Not ever…