Since the closure on March 24, 2022 of foodie, a restaurant located in Ifrane, its owner, Otmane Barakat, has broadcast numerous videos on the Web in which he cries out against injustice, denounces the corruption of the city authorities, and presents himself as the victim of a real machination like a David who would fight against Goliath. A story of which Internet users only knew a single version, which has just been contradicted by another story, that of the local authorities.
The story of this young auto-entrepreneur, former student of Al Akhawayn University, in Ifrane, fascinated the Web. And for good reason, this one brings together all the elements of a success story which Otmane Barakat undertakes the narration in each of his videos.
He thus explains that he is from Laâyoune and that he began his studies at Al Akhawayn University in 2012. But during his university career, he would have found himself unable to pay for his last year of studies at the prestigious university. This is how, he explains, he undertook to open a restaurant in Ifrane. It’s done, October 31, 2020. Then, at the beginning of the year, he continues, having been able to benefit from the program Forsa set up in Morocco for project leaders, he decided to rent a warehouse in Azrou, fifteen minutes from Ifrane, in order to store his goods there.
So far so good…But two months later, the success story turns sour. Arrested on a Sunday on the road that connects Azrou to Ifrane by gendarmes, Otmane Barakat was arrested with sixteen kilos of chicken meat transported in his personal car. First problem, he transports this merchandise without regulatory authorization and second problem, this merchandise comes from the Azrou depot which he uses without an operating licence.
Offenses admitted but disputed
If the young man admits to having committed his two offences, he nevertheless endeavors to denounce the conditions in which his warehouse was allegedly closed and his goods seized, by crying out about the flaw in the procedures and by laying the foundations for a story of machination in against him.
Gendarmes who would have waited for him on the road, an arrest which would have been knowingly orchestrated, goods considered unfit for consumption which would have been seized and burned, he says, without having been subjected to the expertise of a laboratory,… So many elements narrated in a video edited by him that he comments in voice-over but without however showing the proofs that he swears to have and which would prove what he is advancing.
After inspecting and closing his depot, the local joint commission and the gendarmes went to the Foodie restaurant the same day to inspect it in turn. A visit filmed by the establishment’s surveillance cameras and published on social networks by Otmane Barakat who comments on the matter, in voiceover, in a video edited by him. According to him, his establishment would have been closed after this inspection team got hold of a package of six breads unfit for consumption which were not going to be served to customers and which were also in a cupboard.
The young man claims to have nothing to reproach himself for, but also, to have taken many steps that have remained unanswered. He would be alone in the world, facing a lobby aimed at nullifying his efforts… Then on June 11, during a live broadcast on Facebook, he filmed his suicide attempt live in front of horrified Internet users, swallowing all kinds drugs and explaining yet again that he is a victim and does not understand why he was attacked so fiercely.
Fortunately, we will learn later, the young man was rushed to a hospital in Fez, and is currently being followed by a psychiatrist.
Another side of the same story
So far in withdrawal, the municipality of Fez came out of its silence through a press release issued on June 16. The municipality explains that the closure of the foodie was decided on March 24, 2022 following a report issued by the joint local commission for quality control and health safety, in which several offenses are reported, “harming the health of citizens”.
And the municipality lists the said offences, referring to “food products unfit for consumption”, the operation of the Azrou depot described as “clandestine”, the transport of consumer products from the depot to the restaurant “without the slightest respect health conditions” or even the non-compliance with health and safety conditions in the restaurant where employees who do not have health cards would also work.
Serious accusations to which Otmane Barakat has not yet reacted who, if he claimed not to understand the reasons for this unjustified ban having obtained no response to his numerous requests, is today dismissed by this press release in which the municipality affirms that “the owner of the establishment has not taken the necessary steps” to bring his establishment up to standard and allow it to reopen.
Another departure from the young entrepreneur’s version, if he claims for his part that he did not receive any warning from the authorities before the closure of his establishment, the municipality indicates that it did send a warning following the established minutes. by the joint local commission. And according to the municipality, the reopening of the Foodie restaurant would be conditioned by the implementation of the conditions required by this same commission. Indeed, it is explained, therefore, the municipality will take the necessary measures to authorize the person concerned to resume his activity.
The province of Ifrane drives the point home
After the municipality, it is the turn of the province of Ifrane to come out of its reserve with an update published on June 16 in which it taxes as “false” the accusations made against the local authorities following the closure of the restaurant foodie. The province thus denounces the broadcast on social networks of a video “containing statements full of untruths, through which an individual accuses the local authorities of the province of Ifrane of the closure of a premises he operated, of abuse and favouritism, among other baseless allegations and untruths”.
Returning point by point to the story put forward by the restaurateur, the province of Ifrane explains that the person concerned was indeed arrested last March “at the level of a judicial roadblock”, and not arbitrarily as he advances, because he was “in possession of foodstuffs and meat of dubious origin”, which he was transporting moreover “in the absence of the hygiene conditions required for the transport of these products”.
“As a result, and on the basis of the instructions of the public prosecutor, the competent joint provincial commission has been summoned to inspect the store where these expired products should be sent”, we continue in this clarification.
Then, the province of Ifrane reconsiders the facts which preceded the closing of the restaurant of Otmane Barakat. With regard to the Azrou warehouse, improperly closed according to its occupant by the authorities, we thus learn, in this second version of the same story, that “a room intended for the preparation and storage of foodstuffs located in the city of Azrou, which has been the subject of a series of breaches, including the absence of the operating license issued by the municipal services concerned and non-compliance with standards sanitary, technical, hygiene and safety necessary for the exercise of this type of activity, as well as other offenses related to the hiring of employees without declaration and without sanitary documents necessary in this regard”.
With regard to the goods seized and burned just as abusively according to Otmane Barakat, the province explains that “given that the goods seized, either in the vehicle used by the person concerned or inside the store concerned, constitute a danger to the health of citizens, it was proceeded, under the supervision of the competent public prosecutor’s office, to the destruction of these products in accordance with the procedures and methods in force”.
Finally, with regard to the inspection carried out at the restaurant foodie and whose scene, filmed by the restaurant’s surveillance videos, was disclosed by Otmane Barakat, who cried out about the machination by denouncing procedural defects, the province of Ifrane also sheds light on this: “in addition, and on the basis instructions from the public prosecutor’s office, procedures have also been activated to carry out an inspection of the premises operated by the person concerned in the town of Ifrane, where a series of shortcomings have been observed, in particular non-compliance with sanitary, technical standards , health and safety, in addition to having employees work without declaring them and without health documents. Food products, whose expiry date has expired, were also seized and destroyed”.
Ultimately, we conclude in this update, “since the offenses found against the person concerned represent a serious threat to the health of citizens, intervention by the municipal authorities in Azrou and Ifrane has been requested. to take preventive measures relating to the closure of the two premises pending a decision by the judicial authorities”.
Finally, specifies the province of Ifrane, “given that the facts related to this case are currently the subject of proceedings before the courts, it is important to limit ourselves, at present, to the following explanations, in order to clarify the public opinion in this regard and to deny the untruths conveyed by the individual in the said video”.
Otmane Barakat is currently the subject of legal proceedings on the basis of a decision by the prosecution. It will then be up to him to provide irrefutable proof of what he is saying, otherwise his accusations remain for the moment, considers the province of Ifrane “vain allegations” which “have no relation to reality”.