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Man shot dead after attacking Spanish police station was ‘gay and suicidal’

Sofia Lotto Persio August 22, 2018
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Catalan regional police (Mossos d'Esquadra) forces stand guard outside the apartment building of a man who tried to attack a police station in Cornella near the northeastern Spanish city of Barcelona on August 20, 2018. - A man armed with a knife was killed when he attacked a police station near Barcelona, police said. (Photo by LLUIS GENE / AFP) (Photo credit should read LLUIS GENE/AFP/Getty Images)

A man who was shot dead after threatening a Spanish police officer with a knife on Monday had recently come out as gay to his wife, the woman reportedly told investigators.

Abdelouahab Taib, a 29-year-old Algerian man, had begun expressing “suicidal ideas” after his wife told him she wanted to leave him due to his sexual orientation, the woman—whose name was not reported in Spanish media—told the authorities, Spanish daily newspaper El Pais reported.

According to the woman’s statement, Taib had been struggling with accepting his homosexuality and was afraid the Muslim community would find out, shaming and dishonouring him.

Several studies have shown LGBT+ people often struggle to reconcile their faith and sexual identities, which often result in the development of mental health issues including “depression and suicidal ideation.”

It remains to be confirmed if this was the case for Taib. The Spanish authorities have opened an investigation to understand what happened at the police station in Cornellà, a municipality near Barcelona, located a few feet away from the apartment where Taib lived with his wife, and what motivated the man.

According to the police officers’ statements, reviewed by El Pais, Taib had pulled out a knife to attack the female police officer who let him inside the station after he said he wanted to make an inquiry.

Taib was then confronted by both the officer and a sergeant who had just arrived to start his shift. Both officers said he refused to put down his knife despite repeated warnings. The female officer then shot four times, hitting the man three times in his head, leg and arm.

The body of a man who tried to attack a police station is carried out of the premises in Cornella near the northeastern Spanish city of Barcelona on August 20, 2018 (Lluis/Gene/AFP/Getty)

The family of the 29-year-old are considering suing the police for negligence. The lawyer representing the family, David Martínez, told local media there were no signs the man had intended to commit a terrorist act, but that Taib was going through personal issues as the divorce papers were signed last week.

Investigators have yet to rule out terrorism as a motive, but they have also taken into account the possibility the man had “personal motivations channeled from a religious point of view,” El Pais reported.

The prosecutor claims Taib set off to the police station “with the intention of killing or dying while killing,” in an effort to seek salvation for what he considered the sin of homosexuality, the Spanish newspaper wrote, citing confidential sources.

Catalan regional police (Mossos d’Esquadra) forces stand guard outside the apartment building of a man who tried to attack a police station in Cornella on August 20, 2018 (Lluis/Gene/AFP/Getty)

Police said Taib was not known to them for previous offences or for being radicalised. A search of his apartment failed to find any firearms or explosives.

Taib left behind two pieces of papers written in Arabic and a message to the woman he had married saying: “I’m going, inshallah, to the Great Place up there.” Investigators translated the Arabic messages and interpreted them as a sort of prayer—none of the documents make any references to jihad.

Related topics: Barcelona, Europe, internalised homophobia, Spain, Spain

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