3 books to understand terrorism: Morocco

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3 books to better understand “how terrorism is born” through the words of some of the greatest writers of the “Islamic world”. First episode dedicated to Morocco

The series

Given the tension unleashed in Europe after the barbaric terrorist attacks, I thought it was appropriate to start a reflection on “how terrorists are born”. To do this, I chose to use one of my favorite tools: literature. From today to Friday there will in fact be 3 episodes in which we will analyze this phenomenon through the writings of 3 great writers of the “Islamic world”, in order to fully understand a phenomenon that is so sad and about which so many absurd and imaginative theories have been formulated.

(temporary photo, I loaned the book)

The countries will be: Morocco with Mahi Binebine’s “Horses of God”, Egypt with ‘Ala al Aswani’s “Yacoubian Building” and Pakistan with Mohsin Hamid’s “The Reluctant Fundamentalist”; enjoy the reading.

The Casablanca attacks

On May 16, 2003, 14 young people between the ages of 20 and 23 blew themselves up in various places in Casablanca, taking 33 innocent souls with them and wounding over a hundred. This attack is still remembered today as the most serious and dramatic in Moroccan history, also due to the living conditions of the children, all from Sidi Moumen, one of the poorest and most unfortunate neighborhoods in the city.


The event greatly affected Mahi Binebine who chose to investigate more deeply into the psyche of the attackers, giving life to one of the most interesting novels ever for understanding the phenomenon.

Only urchins

In “Horses of God”, in fact, the writer traces the lives of young people from the moment they choose to indulge Abou Zoubeir, the man who will bring them to the tragic end, providing a story that is more than ever linked to many of the European cases latest. The future attackers, in fact, before meeting the self-styled “preacher” are nothing more than petty criminals left to themselves. They play football all day, sneak, sniff glue, live in slums and the mother of one of them is forced into prostitution; not the best.

Sidi Moumen

Kids look a lot like suburban urchins: a bad environment to grow up in, an unclear present and a future that is even less so.

The light of the monkfish

It will be precisely at this point that the sneaky Abou Zoubeir will make his appearance, a preacher who immediately shows himself extremely interested in the souls of the boys, so much so as to push them to an ever more rapid departure from their life, showing himself as a light at the bottom of the abyss. The latter will in fact lead them to a sort of semi-isolation for prayer, very quickly earning the trust of the group which will increasingly resemble a herd of calves for purity and naivety.


It will be at this point that Zoubeir will begin to place more and more emphasis on aspects such as “paradise” and “sacrifice”, pushing young people to observe with ever more gluttony what they could never have achieved in earthly life. Once he has their total obedience and ignorance, he will quickly explain their duties and lead them to sacrifice themselves for the cause, vanishing just before the “highlight”.

Far from being Salafists

Binebine’s skill is to repeatedly show the nature of young people, diametrically opposite to how we are used to imagining “the terrorist”. In fact, even during the training for the attack, scenes that are decidedly unrelated to the alleged asceticism attributed to the fundamentalist world are repeatedly evident. The best example is how they will spend their last evening, that is, taking drugs and making love to each other.

Mahi Binebine
Sidi Moumen, theater of the story

In reality there are several scenes about it: the first in which one of them will faint from too high a dosage, then being raped by the others, and a second in which the latter spontaneously gives himself to the narrator. It is not a story of homosexuals or drugs and the presence of both can mean everything and nothing, but they are certainly clues to understand the psyche of the protagonists. To characterize them, in fact, will never be a great faith, but rather of fragility combined with a truly unsustainable situation, perfect springs for one of the most hated reactions of the Merciful.

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