“Loneliness, emptiness and impotence is what I felt because of the cruel and irreparable reality of an accomplished fact. The fact could be summarized as follows: a Moroccan woman, mother of two little girls, who was beaten to death by her husband with a hammer. Her body lay in the morgue for eight days, like a piece of meat about to get rid of. Without dignity, like a garbage bag. Whatever happened, this is the result and nothing prevented it from happening.”
Bitterness, consternation, anger and impotence are some of the emotions experienced by Souad Sbai, an Italian journalist of Moroccan origin, founder and president of Acmid-Donna Onlus, an association that deals with the fight against violence against women.
ACMID received a call from the Carabinieri of Brescello, the Italian city where Rachida was murdered, and Souad Sbai began her journey aimed at reconstructing the motivations of that terrible crime. Likewise, Souad Sbai, continues to analyze the multiple reasons that lead many men to use violence against women (against their wives, daughters or even mothers) more or less seriously, when they dare to leave the road imposed while they long for a totally denied freedom.
Rachida, who lived in Italy for several years, repeatedly denounced the violence suffered at the hands of her husband. She talked with her acquaintances and even with the parish priest during a process of approaching the Christian religion.
The crime committed by Rachida, according to her husband was to have dared to move away from Islam and approached another religion. A crime of apostasy that received the most severe punishment: death.
“Questions that are still waiting for an answer: how? why? when can we decide to put an end to a life because it escapes our perverse desire for control and mental subjugation?”
Meanwhile, Rachida’s body lies alone and abandoned in the village morgue, without anyone claiming it, without anyone piously trying to give her a proper burial.
Later Souad Sbai telephoned Rachida’s parents, who from Morocco traveled to Italy to pick up the remains of their daughter and bring them home. At this moment, Rachida becomes a symbol of freedom, of their power to choose which side to stay and to follow their own path, responding only to their own conscience.
However, in this case, the choice was made in absolute secrecy, in a clandestine way, just to not hurt the violent soul living next door that did not hesitate to put an end to her life when he discovered the real truth: his wife dared to disobey the dictates established by tradition, she dared to choose a different path for his spirituality; in short, she did not accept submission.
Souad Sbai, the author of the book “Rachida – Un’apostata in Italia” (Rachida – An apostate in Italy) – published in 2017 by Alter Ego Editions – strongly emphasizes the persecutions to which all those who abandon Islam to become to Christianity are subjected.
In order to understand Rachida’s story, an inclusive key is necessary: her violent death at the hands of a member of her family (her husband) testifies that some women – (not only those belonging to the Islamic cultural area; just see the large number of feminicides carried out in our country) – cannot assert their right to self-determination, freedom of choice and to make their own decisions, both in the religious field and in other areas of life.
For this reason, the judicial process, both in the case of Rachida’s husband and in all other trials for similar crimes, must be based on three imperatives: no fear, no mercy and no mitigation.
The only way to guarantee a fair judicial process, that really gives justice to the victim, is to follow these guidelines rigorously. Rachida finally had justice and her murderer got a proper punishment for the horrible crime committed. The story of Rachida has appeared in many public debates on religious freedom.
“While it is unlawful for anyone to freely follow the path indicated by their soul, by their guiding spirit, it will not be possible to build a truly equal and peaceful society, free from the deceptions and illusions of false multiculturalism and from any naive attempt of truce among those who love and those who hate, anywhere in the world. “