By Romane Frachon
Tamer Shabana, the owner of Nour d’Egypte, four sandwich shops and restaurants in Marseille with rapid development, is in the sights of justice. Imprisoned in Baumettes for 45 days, he is indicted for “money laundering, concealed work and employment of foreigners without title”, confirms the prosecution to News Marseille. June 13, France 3 Revealing the case. Since then, we have gathered the testimonies of six former employees. They are part of inappropriate behavior, non-compliance with the labor code, physical aggression and sexual harassment.
Coming from Egypt for his master’s degree in 2019, Safir* was soon hired by the Cantine de Nour, with its “trendy, modern” look. One evening, while having a drink in the city center of Marseille with a friend, he notices that his employer observes him at the corner of the street, without greeting him. The next day, on arriving at work, Tamer Shabana allegedly told him that he no longer wanted to work with him.
Safir, shocked, asks what he did wrong: “he told me he didn’t want a bad Muslim in my restaurant and that he saw me hanging out with a prostitute last night”, argued- he. With tears in his eyes, the student would have provided the business manager with at least paying him for the months worked. The latter would then have pretended to take him to a room to give him his due, then would have locked him behind him, “for the whole day”. “Traumatized”, the boy will not come back.
“It’s better to put white ones at the front of the store”
A stone’s throw from La Canebière, the Egyptian Souk Nour stands out: the old Tati has been transformed into a real tourist spot. Since summer 2020, it has been a restaurant and a souvenir shop, often overpriced for locals. On social networks, the brand announces the color: “a family home to celebrate the art of living in the Oriental style”. This place plays on its “exoticism” to attract foreign customers: “we come here to live the Arab experience of Marseille, in complete safety”, confides a Marseilles resident on the terrace.
But behind the scenes, there would be a “climate of pressure” according to Ann, 23, who worked in 2020 in the Nour subsidiary “O’ptit hollow”. Tamer Shabana asks him to do “more for the company”, accuses him of not being “profitable”, whichNews Marseille was able to verify via messages sent in a WhatsApp group.
Ann maintains that her boss would have forced her to work during confinement. She also describes an “assumed racism”. When he arrived, he would have told him: “it was better to put white ones at the front of the store”. She would therefore have been placed in front for the sale, while her colleague of North African origin would have remained in the kitchen. What the respondent denies en bloc, as he explains to News Marseille in an article that we devote to his defense.
An “more and more exists” behavior
Amber reports acts of discrimination. She no longer lives in Marseille. When she returns to see her relatives, she assures us “to avoid the streets of Nour”, for fear of meeting Tamer or Agnès Shabana (his wife and partner). The young woman has bitter memories of her experience at the Canebière snack bar. Ambre believes that she has been the victim of discrimination related to her disability (difficulty speaking): “Tamer made fun of me, my slow way of speaking, in addition to being hyper macho, but I quickly put it back to a place “.
She defines him as an “old seducer”. Ambre considers that Tamer Shabana tried to divide his female employees, by putting them in competition, including physically. Then a scene comes back to him.
“One day, at the end of 2018, Tamer introduced us to a 15-year-old Egyptian girl whom he was hosting above his Balady bakery, she was supposedly coming to do an internship in his cultural association. He had an ultra tactile behavior with her, not at all professional”
This teenager would have stayed two years in Nour. News Marseille tried to join, but she refuses to testify. Ambre blames herself today for not having intervened: “I was very afraid for her, she was a child”. Trembling, she admits: “Having been raped myself, I know how to spot weird, dangerous men.” The fact that its boss is becoming “more and more sexist”, has led, according to another employee, to Agnès, his wife, intervening to ask that no more young women be recruited.
Massages, banana and kiss on the neck
It is very difficult for Elsa to recognize that she has been harassed. The young woman, then 19, was recruited on the street in November 2018. “Tamer mentioned us with a friend on the Prado, I was looking for work, I accepted”. She had an interview three days later: “He serves me food, we talk about my tattoos, everything except catering,” she says. Like other sources, she says she will never sign a contract.
She begins to ask questions when her boss “lifts her up and down” while she is wearing a “red crop-top”, she says. He would have said to him: “it suits you too well” while looking at his chest in an insistent way. While she was preparing a salad, Elsa says he would have placed himself behind her “in a very sticky way”, then pretending to help her to place a knife well, he would have given her a “kiss on the neck”.
He goes beyond the limits according to her when, one morning when she has to confine herself because she is sick, he would have offered to go to her house to bring her “a banana”. She is very surprised, but he would have assured her that in her country of origin, “it is done”. A few days later, he allegedly asked her to change contract to full-time, which she allegedly refused. He would have threatened her. She claims: “he forced me to sign my resignation”.
Last year, after having suffered several refusals of employment, she admits having reconnected with Mr. Shabana “in case he has room on weekends”. He would then hasten to tell her that he would have received “massage lessons”, and would have asked her to be his “paying model”. The young woman, “Totally in shock”, then decided to block her number and delete everything.
“It was not at all appropriate, we had never talked about massages together or anything, everything came out of a sudden: his looks, his remarks, his touching. I realized that I had been a victim.
She contacted Amber by message about this event, whichNews Marseille could check.
“I saw myself dying”
Moha, 33, is the alleged victim of a physical assault that dates back to October 22, 2020 (News Marseille was able to consult his complaint dated the following day). He was then digital development director of the Souk. In permanent conflict with his boss, he would have decided to ask for a conventional break. “The labor law was never applied, he was not interested in respecting the law, I quickly understood that I had to leave otherwise I was going to have trouble.”
This October 22, the tone rises between them. At issue: Tamer Shabana allegedly tried to force Moha to sign a document without reading it. His boss would have yelled at him. The employee allegedly replied “I don’t feel safe, I’m going out”. Mr Shabana allegedly punched him several times. Assessment: 15 days of ITT, as marked on the complaint that we were able to consult.
“I saw myself dying, I screamed as if it were the end, my head was full of bumps. All that to want to read a paper.
The young man is convinced of this: Tamer Shabana exerted pressure on several employees to produce false testimonies in his favor.
According to Moha’s complaint that we have consulted, Shabana employs about thirty Egyptians without contracts. “We disagreed on that,” he points out. Moha claims that his former employer would house undocumented workers in the apartments of Jean-Claude Amar, his father-in-law (also indicted). The Marseille public prosecutor’s office confirms that Mr. Shabana is being prosecuted for concealed work and aiding the illegal stay of foreigners.
Pressure by SMS
Khalid witnesses the aggression of Moha, his brother. He himself would have taken months to be paid, finding himself “without any resources” because of this experience in Nour. If he testifies today, it is first of all to “end with fear”.
Since France 3 revealed the affair, Agnès Amar – the wife of Tamer Shabana, director of the cinema Les Variétés – has tried to contact several of our sources to ask them to testify in favor of her husband, which they have to refuse. One of them – who wants to remain anonymous – would have received heavy pressure: “Agnès told me that it was partly my fault if he was in prison, because I did not have the right contract papers.
Contacted, Agnès Amar does not wish to comment. Through his lawyer, Me Laurent Bartolomei, Tamer Shabana qualify these allegations as “fanciful”. The Marseille public prosecutor’s office recalls that “any person suspected or prosecuted is presumed innocent until his guilt has not been established”.
*All first names have been changed at the request of those interviewed by our editorial staff.
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