Moroccan King's Favorite Popstar Arrested Again in France Over Rape Allegations

The singer, Saad Lamjarred, was released following prior rape accusations after the intervention of Morocco's king

Moroccan singer Saad Lamjarred
Fethi Belaid/AFP

Saad Lamjarred, a Moroccan singer with millions of fans, including Morocco's king, Mohammed VI, has spent the past 48 hours under arrest by the French police in St. Tropez on suspicion of raping a young woman in the resort town. Lamjarred already has an electronic bracelet around his ankle, placed there following his release from custody two years ago, after the king’s intervention, in connection with an earlier rape case.

Lamjarred, 33, was born in Marrakesh to a family of famous performers. His father is the singer Bachir Abdou; his mother, Nezha Regragui, is an actress. Many of the songs that Lamjarred has written and recorded over the past decade became huge hits on YouTube and social media with tens of millions of views, making him a pop idol in Morocco and throughout the Arab world. His major breakthrough came with the 2012 hit “Salina Salina.”

>> Morocco's 'virtual king' runs his country on social media. But where's the queen? | Analysis

In October 2016, shortly before he was to perform in Paris, Lamjarred was arrested there on suspicion of committing a violent rape. A 20-year-old Parisian woman told the police that Lamjarred had sexually assaulted and raped her in a hotel room the night before. The French press reported that a team of top lawyers had been recruited to defend the singer, financed directly by the Moroccan monarch. The king later acknowledged that publicly.

About six months later, Lamjarred was in trouble again. A French-Moroccan woman told the police that he had beaten and raped her in the Moroccan city of Casablanca two years before. Lamjarred’s lawyers again leaped into the fray and secured his release on bail, on the condition that he wear an electronic ankle bracelet. It should also be noted that in 2015 another French woman of Moroccan background claimed that the singer had raped her that year in Casablanca. The French newspaper Le Parisien reported at the time that she withdrew her complaint under heavy pressure.

The investigations into the allegations against the singer were closed, but their findings have never been made public. In any event, Lamjarred’s career did not suffer. Quite to the contrary.

In March of this year, he received special permission from the French authorities to travel to Morocco to promote his single “Ghazali.” He is more popular than ever in his home country, with the press there covering his every move, and his videos continue to rack up huge numbers of views on YouTube. His song “Casablanca” attracted more than 50 million views in just three weeks, and “Ghazali” has had over 120 million.

Lamjarred showed his gratitude to the king last week when he took part in the recording of a special song to mark the Moroccan monarch's birthday. A few days later, on a Saturday night, in a reprise of prior allegations, a 29-year-old woman told the police that the singer raped her after a night out on the French Riviera in St. Tropez. On Monday of this week, police showed up at the home where Lamjarred was staying and took him back into custody.