Wednesday, December 8

Najat el Hachmi: “A veil is a mobile prison” | Summer Magazine


She does not speak to her father and believes that if her mother could read her books, she would understand her. Najat el Hachmi (Nador, Morocco, 42 years old) arrived in Spain at the age of eight. She grew up in Vic in an environment where the strict rules of Islam for women did not match the freedom that she learned in school, watched on the street, or watched on television. He has won the Nadal Award with On monday they will love us and he is not afraid.

Question. How many times have you had to listen: “Moorish bitch, go to your country”? How does that fit in?

Answer. As a child I was already a rebel, but with a cause. I rebelled against inequality and injustice. Rebellion was common sense. It seemed absurd to me to be singled out for coming from another country. Writing has helped me to heal wounds and survive.

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P. A brave writing. For less, others have been sentenced to death.

R. Yes, but they were more important … I just can’t help it. There are times when I ask myself: do you really want to get in here? When I began to write I was not aware that there were things that it was better not to say.

P. Until they started rejecting her in their circles.

R. The first story I wrote won an award in high school. It was about a girl who falls in love with a boy who emigrates, dumps her and loses her virginity. He was talking about the punishment she suffers for something as simple as being carried away by desire, I don’t even know if that was love. It was desire.

P. There was tomato, come on. Did your parents read it?

R. My mother could not because she is illiterate. If you read me, I think you would understand well what I am telling and you would identify with it. And I don’t know if they told my father.

P. What happened?

R. They found out because it was featured in a local newspaper. My father was very upset because the neighbors began to congratulate him in a bar. Then the other Muslim families started murmuring and accusing me that I was embarrassing them.

P. Did you learn there that the taste of freedom was better than the price you had to pay for it?

R. There I felt more foreign than ever. The field of reading and writing, which I had made my own, was completely alien to my reality. In my house there was a silence that lasts to this day.

P. Why?

R. Because in my family no one talks to me about my writing.

P. But they do talk about other things.

R. With my mother, yes… With my father, no.

P. Have they broken?

R. Yes, for me it was a matter of life and death. Either I broke up with him or I broke up.

P. He regrets?

R. No, it’s the best thing I did. There is no intermediate solution when the other tries to annul you.

I had more suitors as an immigrant with papers. Many saw the possibility of taking advantage of that. They even told you on the street: “Make me my papers”

P. He left home?

R. I was already married. With someone who more or less fit what my parents wanted. In my family they had been joking about it since I was 13 years old. It seemed that they had already agreed with a cousin between my father and his sister. But I didn’t marry that one, they put him in jail. I was saved from that piece that they wanted to put on me. Then I had more suitors as an immigrant with papers. Many saw the possibility of taking advantage of that. They even told you on the street: “Get my papers.” And I thought: go to the bathroom and grab the toilet roll, there are a lot there.

P. Were you in love when you got married?

R. I believed it, but I suggested myself for that a lot, I think. I just wanted to get out of my house. Of that continuous contrast between what we lived inside and our education or what we saw on television. We arrived in 1987 and the first thing I saw was Sabrina showing her boobs. Notice…! My father must have thought we didn’t know. You integrate very quickly to freedom. The reverse path is more difficult.

P. Why do you think there are people who go the other way: from freedom to repression?

R. Because of fear. Life, if you live it intensely, you don’t control it. It can not be done. It’s hard to assume, even for me. That it has an end, damn it. But the best revenge against that is to live it.

P. What is a veil for you?

R. A mobile prison. When they could not lock us in the houses the Islamists invented the veil. It is a jail and a flag with various meanings. A symbol with which you consent to submission.

P. You took it …

R. I took it. I had a mystical phase. I met an Islamist family. So I know very well who they are. I wanted to be the perfect Muslim woman and the principal of my school forbade me to wear it: “You can’t go to school that way,” she told me. And he did me a favor.

I wanted to be the perfect Muslim woman and the principal of my school forbade me to wear it: “You can’t go to school that way,” she told me. And did me a favor

P. Or you ran the risk of becoming radicalized …

R. At the time, no. To this day, I don’t know, because perhaps some organization would have protested considering that Islamophobia.

P. Are we confusing terms with that?

R. There is a certain cynicism. Is there no other way to defend a Muslim than to put the veil over yourself?

P. Is a young Muslim today at risk of radicalization in Spain?

R. Yes. Not only because of the violent side, but because of the fundamentalism that sends messages according to which you owe nothing to the democracy to which you belong and in which you live. And it is a Trojan horse to fight against because it convinces you that it is lawful for you to oppose it. Either we educate against it or it settles. I go to schools a lot and the subject is not discussed in the classroom in case the families get angry.

P. How do you educate your children?

R. I have two. I educate my daughter to have confidence in herself. That root will allow you to navigate the world. My son, who is 20 years old, I no longer educate him, he does not let himself … The best thing for that is not what you give them, but how you behave in front of them.

P. Did they expel you from your environment or did you exclude yourself?

R. When there is harassment, coercion, blackmail, persecution and they watch you to see if there is someone with you in your house, they are mistreating you. Since I got divorced it was like this. I have a useful point of naivety. As a little girl I thought that the rules they imposed on my mother would never apply to me. I was my father’s favorite. I went with him everywhere, he even took me to a disco when I was 10 years old. But once he was furious because I opened the door to a worker from his company. She had had her period. And a hell of control ensued: how I dressed, how I moved… And I didn’t know why. In addition, I experienced sensuality with brutal intensity, my awakening to that. And he couldn’t, he had to suppress it. I don’t see any problem with desire. The fundamental things of our existence provoke a pleasure that comes from a desire and normally you want to repeat.

P. How to reach orgasm and cry, you tell in one of your books. By emotion or by repression?

R. For emotion, of course. The repression did not bring in me the consequences that they expected.

She had had her period. And a hell of control ensued: how I dressed, how I moved … And I didn’t know why. In addition, I experienced sensuality with brutal intensity, my awakening to that. And I couldn’t, I had to suppress it

P. What Fatima Mernissi says that size 38 is the veil of Western women, what do you think?

R. Nonsense. I don’t know of a girl who has suffered abuse for wearing a specific dress size, but I do know a few who have been beaten to death for not wearing a burqa.

P. Have you suffered abuse?

R. Me? Yes. But it has hurt me more to see it in other people than in myself. You feel the helplessness of not being able to do anything.

P. What would you say to those in Spain who say that there is no democracy in this country?

R. Let them go to Morocco for a while. But let’s not talk about politics, let’s talk about desire …

Discover the best stories of the summer in Revista V.


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