NEW YORK — Some call her a "liar attracted by money", others unconditionally support her. The Guinean maid who accused former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexual assault has deeply divided New York's community of immigrants from Guinea, who are now trying to protect themselves from fallout from the case.
New York has no "Little Guinea" neighborhood that could be compared to "Little Italy" or "Chinatown."
Guineans here are scattered around Harlem, Brooklyn and the Bronx where Strauss-Kahn's accuser had been living until the beginning of the case.
Her compatriots now closely follow all the twists and turns of the proceedings.
In a Guinean restaurant in Harlem Saturday, two immigrants from the West African country discussed the case.
Mohamed, 50, belongs to the Malinke tribe, one of two main ethnic groups in Guinea.
In his view, "the girl should have negotiated directly with Strauss-Kahn and avoided involving the American justice system."
"Now her name is everywhere and that it is not good," sad Mohamed, who believed the woman had lied.
Hearing that a waiter, a man in his 20s, makes a face. He belongs to the Fulani tribe as does Strauss-Kahn's accuser.
"I do not think she lied because a Fulani woman cannot lie," he replies in perfect French.
Once alone and far from the restaurant, Mohamed points out: "In my view, the Fulanis love money and they are liars. As far as I am concerned, she is not even Guinean, she is Fulani."
Farther east in the Bronx, on the corner of 166th Street and 3rd Avenue, a red brick building houses a two-story mosque called the Futa Islamic Center. Here, according to The New York Times, the controversial hotel maid used to pray.
Veiled little girls play at the entrance. One of them holds a yellow binder entitled "Islamic Studies." A little boy nearby is carrying a backpack with an inscription "Marseille Olympics."
Tidiane Ba, a Guinean who came to collect his children from the mosque, is concerned about fallout from the Strauss-Kahn case.
"Maybe she lied," he said. "If so, it could sully the whole Guinean community."
More than a dozen journalists have visited here, seeking interviews about the case.
Mahmadou Barry, one of the faithful, tried to distance himself from the accuser.
"If she lied, it was her who lied," he said, "It was not the Guinean community who lied ... It's none of my business and I will not delve into the affairs of others."
Imam Abdourahmane Bah welcomes journalists with open arms.
"We are waiting for the court, for the legal system," he said. "We are listening whatever comes out of the court. We respect it."
At the same time, he described the accuser as "part of the community" and as "a sister."
"I'll leave my door open until the end of the case," the imam added, noting "There are more than 20 tribes in Guinea."
On Friday, a judge freed Strauss-Kahn from house arrest after prosecutors said the maid accusing him of sexual assault lied to a grand jury.
Two hours later, Bah told the worshipers: "Do not lie. Whenever you tell something, make sure you tell the truth."
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