Rabat, Morocco, Jun 6 (EFE).- Fatima Ezzahra Amezgar, a young Moroccan author, has become the center of attention at the Rabat Book Fair after her novel was withdrawn from the event due to controversy around its subject.
“Extremists are angry because my novel not only defends the struggle to free oneself from men, but also puts an end to phallocentrism in Morocco and declares the male as persona non grata,” the 25-year-old tells Efe.
‘Lesbian Diaries’ tells the story of a lesbian girl dealing with being gay in Morocco, where homosexuality is a crime and sentences include penalties of up to three years in jail.
The protagonist Titima is a young woman raised in a shantytown in Casablanca who, after being raped as a child, was forced to marry a man. Later in life, Titima meets Ranim, a woman with whom she discovers her homosexuality and who sets her free from her husband.
“I wrote the book to defend coexistence. I was shocked when I saw how the LGTBQI+ community truly believes in love and how the rest of society is hostile towards its members,” Amezgar, who says the novel is not an autobiography, adds.
‘Lesbian Diaries’ was scheduled to be presented among the 100,000 titles at the 27th edition of the International Publishing and Book Fair (SIEL) held in Rabat from June 3 to 12 but was withdrawn last minute after receiving aggressive criticism by religious leaders.
“If today they are defending homosexuality, tomorrow we will be reading memoirs of people who have sex with their sisters, their mothers or their daughters. It may seem strange to you, but I am very serious,” Moroccan Salafist leader, Hassan el-Kettani, wrote on his Facebook page.
Amezgar says SIEL withdrew her book to protect her.
“I think they are afraid that, if they don’t intervene, there will be a hate attack,” she tells Efe, adding that since the book was withdrawn from the event, demand for it has actually increased.
Despite the controversy surrounding her book, Amezgar has not lost hope and says she wants to continue writing about “castrated women”.
“These laws may exist to protect the physical integrity of people who are different, but they have to protect them without affecting their freedoms,” she says.