An Instagram influencer from Morocco has initiated a menacing trend. A country where homosexuality is considered a crime, she encouraged her followers to use gay dating apps to out them.
Who is this influencer?
Also known by Sofia Talouni, Naoufal Moussa is a tranwoman based out of Turkey. She is a beauty influencer whose nightly Instagram Live series was watched by more than 100,000 people.
As she went live on April 13, speaking in Arabic (Moroccan), she encouraged all the homophobic and transphobic women to download gay dating applications, such as Grindr, with pictures of men. Just to out gay men living in their areas or communities.
Instagram deleted her account on the following Friday.
“These apps will show you the people who are near to you. 100 meters, 200 meters, even just one meter, just next to you in the living room,” Moussa said in the video, Insider recorded. “Since everyone is together at home, it could show you your husband in your bedroom, it could show you your son who might be in the bathroom.”
Morocco has banned same sex relationships. It is a punishable offence with upto three years in jail. More concerning with men who are gay, it is the fear of physical danger, as a result of being outed in an extremely conservative and religious society.
Consequences of her stupidity were:
Following Taoni’s video, a large number of straight women and men started creating fake profiles. And spreading of the information, of gay or queer males, they found on these applications. There have been reported suicides and violence as well. However, local LGBTQ+ groups were swift enough to put a stop to this.
LGBTQIA+ activists such as Adam Eli and a Moroccan feminist and LGBTQ advocacy organization called Nassawiyat took quick steps. Furthermore, they immediately asked for the removal of this influencer’s account from Instagram.
“We are facing a special case where a queer person that belongs to the community in a way is the one who made people in danger,” a representative for Nassawiyat wrote in an email, told Insider.
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To whom it may concern, We are urgently writing to ask skateholders, organizations, associations and institutions to take immediate action by informing the concerned authorities about an active social media influencer, specifically on Instagram in order to take steps against her/him. The Instagram user’s account is named : Naoufalmoussa The person’s name is Naoufal Moussa that is known in Morocco as Sofia Talouni. Moussa is a Moroccan expat living in Turkey. He/she has got a large number of followers on her verified Instagram account, where he/she has recently began to broadcast live videos of herself that aim to expose the identities of the Moroccan queer people. Many of those people live with their families, especially nowadays due to the quarantine. Sofia clearly attacked and underestimated the Moroccan civil society associations, especially the AIDS fighting associations that are making a great effort and work really hard for the safety and well-being of the LGBTQA+ community and the Moroccan society as a whole. While homosexuality is illegal in the Moroccan law (Article 489 of the Penal Code of Morocco criminalises "lewd or unnatural acts with an individual of the same sex") and seen as a great sin by a large number of Moroccan people, homophobia is a very common act which the LGBTQA+ community suffers from here. Therefore, publically exposing the identities of the Moroccan queer people puts them at risk. Moussa has intentionally outed a lot of queer Moroccans on her Instagram live videos, as he/she has shown his/her homophobic audience the social platforms that queer people use. Such as, Grindr, Hornet, Planet Romeo…etc and encouraged them to create fake accounts to look for LGBTQA+ people there. This process has been really dangerous and harmful to the LGBTQA+ community. We urge you to contact the concerned authorities to instantly suspend the Instagram account Naoufalmoussa pending review. Then, ban him/her from the platform due to the policy of hate/speech and violence.
Other members of the Moroccan LGBTQ community have reached out to dating apps, to control this madness. “We were shocked when we were contacted by the LGBT group in Morocco,” Jens Schmidt, said to Insider. Jens Schmidt is the CEO and founder of PlanetRomeo, a gay men dating application. “We took immediate action by sending a security message to all our 41,000 users in Morocco. We blocked all profiles created from the time this person addressed her users, and contacted Facebook to have the group page taken offline,” Schmidt said. “Through our work and our personal experience, we are aware that so many more people face similar threats in numerous countries.”
Gay men in Morocco, scared for their lives:
A Moroccan gay 19 year old man, said to Insider that his pictures are currently doing the rounds online. However, they did not reach his family yet. “I’m not just afraid,” he told to Insider. “I’m certain that I will be kicked out immediately. Or worse, beaten up.”
“It is a witch hunt,” said a gay man who’s 20, to Insider. His pictures are also doing the rounds on social media platforms such as Facebook. He is waiting with his heart in the throat, for his folks to find the pictures. He told he wished his parents would just find them already, so he can “defend himself” with “lies” that he’s already prepared. “I’m living in constant fright,” he added.
Eddine is an openly gay Instagram influencer Moroccan. He is 23 and lives in Rabat. Although his parents have started to respect him, since he decided to come out three years ago, he does not want his buddies to endure this pain.
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🏳️🌈🇲🇦💪🏻 use those two hashtags #proudqueermoroccan #theworldiswithus In case you think you are alone that’s totally false the world is with us 🏳️🌈🇲🇦❤️ . . #iameddine #lgbtq🌈 #lgbtmorocco #positiveenergy #strongaf #eddine #moroccanartist #instagay #voices4 #lecoindeslgbt
“I’m very worried and I’m very scared. I really experienced that moment when my parents knew. And left my home because I didn’t feel good,” he said to Insider
Eddine also had asked for his last name to be kept anonymous. He said that as a popular influencer on Instagram, he feels like it’s his duty as a to speak for his community, as an openly gay man. “The majority of people cannot talk,” he said.
Eddine and his friends from the community- they are the ones who reached out to dating apps regarding this chaos.
This is not the first time, for such chaos to occur against gay men:
“The law inherently discriminates against LGBTQ people, so it can only be an incubator for this type of abuse,” Ahmed Benchemsi said to insider. “Homophobic people feel empowered because the law is on their side.” Ahmed Benchemsi is director of advocacy and communications for the Human Rights Watch, North Africa and Middle East division.
Hence, being a gay man in Morocco is life threateningly dangerous. Furthermore, many cases of violence against the community people have occured in the past. A group of cis men broke into a house, abused two gay men. They dragged these two naked onto the streets, the Human Rights Watch recorded. As a response, the Moroccan justice first pressed charges against the victims, before the group of men.
Similar cases with gay dating apps have taken place in many other North African and Middle Eastern countries. Such as Egypt where homosexual men were catfished, then beaten up or blackmailed.