Bulaq Episode 50: ‘Tazmamart’

In this episode of Bulaq, the fifty-first, co-hosts Ursula Lindsey and M Lynx Qualey talk about Morocco’s most infamous secret prison:

It’s a story about fathers and sons; about survivors who tell their stories; and about writers who borrow (or steal?) them.

List at: listen.sowt.com/tazmamart.

Show Notes: 

Johanna Sellman “Memoirs from Tazmamart: Writing Strategies and Alternative Frameworks of Judgment” gives an overview of the survivors’ writing about Tazmamart through 2006.

In 1999-2000, Mohamed Raiss published an account of his experiences serialized in Arabic. It was translated to French and published in book form in 2011 as Skhirat to Tazmamart: Return from the Bottom of Hell.

Ahmed Marzouki’s Tazmamart Cellule 10 (Tazmamart Cell 10) came out in 2000. There is also a more recent interview with him, translated to English, in Jadaliyya.

The account of  Ali BourequatIn the Moroccan King’s Secret Gardens (1998), is out of print. In 2000 Medhat Bourequat, another of the Bourequat brothers, published his account, Mort Vivant (Living Dead).

Tahar Ben Jelloun’s Cette aveuglante absence de lumière (That Blinding Absence of Light) appeared in 2001 and was apparently based on a three-hour interview with Aziz Binebine, who wrote an open letter saying Ben Jelloun pressured him to talk and disavowed the novel.

Aziz Binebine’s own testimony, Tazmamort, appeared in 2009. The English translation, by Lulu Norman, appeared this spring.

Binebine’s brother, Mahi Binebine, has written a novel about their father, who was a favorite companion and court “jester” of Hassan II, and who disavowed his son when he was imprisoned, Le fou du roi.

The Moroccan novelist Youssef Fadel features both the figure of the father/court jester and the prison of Tazmamart in his novels A Beautiful White Cat Walks With Me and A Rare Blue Bird Flies With Me.

We discussed the devastating Syrian prison memoir The Shell, by Mustafa Khalifa; and we talked about Morocco’s years of lead previously in this episode.

In images: