Sunday, April 25, 2010

Les Etoiles de Sidi Moumen - a New Book by Moroccan Writer Mahi Binebine

Here is an article about a new book by Mahi Binebine that is once again treating the familiar subject of Moroccan slums and the creation of terrorists. It is a topic that peaks Western interest, but the books/movies on this subject don't seem to ignite any strong anti-poverty movement in the 'Ghrib.


(ANSAmed) - PARIS - ''Les etoiles de Sidi Moumen'', the latest book by Moroccan writer, painter and sculptor Mahi Binebine, tells the story of the journey of one of the young kamikazes who took part in the Casablanca suicide attacks on May 16 2003, and the social, religious and human malaise of the Moroccan shantytowns.

Released in January by Flammarion, in addition to receiving positive reviews - it was recommended by 2008 Nobel prize-winner for literature J.M.G. Le Clezio - it will be turned into a film, directed by Moroccan, Nabil Ayouch. The adaptation of the book is one of the 15 projects chosen for their artistic quality by the Cannes Film Festival's Cinefondation. The projects will be presented at the next edition of the event in May to seek financing. The full-length film will cost three million euros and should be filmed in November in Casablanca and Fes.

At the beginning of the book, one would expect a Moroccan version of 'City of joy', but the shantytown-dwelling youngsters of Sidi Mounem get involved with an emir who offers Yachine and his gang of shoeless rascals who dream of becoming the best footballers of all time, ''the keys to paradise'', which will open the door to hell for them. Binebine imagines what goes through the head of a youngster from a family of 13 brothers, who grew up in the dumps of one of the worst slums only 15 minutes from the economic capital of the country, clogged with over 100,000 people. ''In Sidi Mounem, I discovered a Morocco that I did not know, which shocked me, a sort of Calcutta,'' said the writer, who took five years ''of pain and difficult writing to put an urban nightmare into black and white''. A childhood made up of robberies, bloody dealings, hashish, but also love for one's mother, laughter, football, and then the descent into the underworld towards a misguided Islam synonymous of terror.

A novel, not a political book, which speaks to the powers that be with a simple message, explained the author: take care of these youngsters, educate them, give them jobs, give them back their dignity. We are sitting on a powder keg, tomorrow there could be another tragedy.

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