‫مبادرة كلنا رجاء …. We Are All Rajaa

Rajaa Mint Asiade
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A full year has passed since Badr Ould Abdel Aziz claimed his victim: Miss Rajaa Mint Asiade. A young Muslim woman from a conservative family, she was invited by one of her friends to go out one evening with a group of young people, including the son of the Mauritanian President. The events of that night changed her life, and she was lucky to come out of it alive.

The story is well known in Mauritania, Morocco, Egypt and other Arab countries: the young woman was shot by the son of the president, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz. Miss Asiade was airlifted to Morocco in order to receive specialist hospital treatment at the Avicenne Hospital in Rabat, due to the lack of medical facilities in Mauritania, where doctors diagnosed injury to the spinal cord. Despite the best efforts of specialists, it is possible that she will be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life. A campaign on Facebook demanding justice for the crime which crippled this young woman has run for a year without the slightest reaction from the tight-lipped authorities.

As for the accused, the president’s son has tried in every way possible to cover up the case and keep it out of the public eye, including putting pressure on the victim’s family through intermediaries, by persuading tribal elders to intercede, and relying on the sensitivity towards the situation in a conservative society to prevent the spread of gossip. However, he failed in his attempts to suppress the news, and it quickly spread across the internet and gained the attention of international media such as Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya.

The fact that the perpetrator confessed to his crime in front of doctors at the National Hospital, and the presence of witnesses at the scene, including his two companions, Mauritanian Zine El Abidine Ould Imam Shafei (half-brother of Mustafa Ould Shafei, advisor to Burkina Faso’s President) and a Moroccan youth named Rachid al-Khatib, should have sealed his fate. But the next day, Badr Ould Abdel Aziz was still walking around Nouakchott a free man despite the seriousness of his crime.

Eventually the pressure of public opinion must have made it obvious that he would have to be shown to be “punished” for his offence. So, the judiciary arranged 5-star treatment for this special offender in the office of one of the departments of the judiciary, fetching in rugs and mattresses to assure his comfort. As people heard about his detention they waited anxiously to see justice served, but instead the case was dropped and Badr set free within a couple of days with a paltry $150 fine, which he did not even pay himself. his two companions were also fined the same amount.

Mauritanian blogger Nasser Weddady commented on this scandal:

The young man was released from police custody back in January after he shot a girl with a pistol lodging a bullet in her spine. The presidential family moved swiftly to save the son. it put immense pressure on the victim’s family and the Attorney General to avoid any legal pursuit of General’s son. Finally, the family’s victim received a substantial sum of money from the Aziz family in order to keep them quiet.

Apart from the sheer injustice of the case, this is a shocking precedent to set for anyone who decides to tranple the honour of women in Mauritania. As the statistics on violence against women show, there is no shortage of disciples.

Badr Ould Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz

It is worth noting that Badr’s companions were also detained by the police, and put under considerable pressure to supply false testimony about the event; and that there are reports that Badr lost control immediately after the shooting, and wanted to escape, leaving the young woman injured and without assistance. It is further said that his friends had to persuade him to calm down and take her to the hospital but that instead he tried to take her to the Presidentaial Palace. Badr Ould Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz is a married man, and his wife gave birth a few months before the shooting.

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