Several books on my shelves tell the stories of women from northern Africa and the Horn of Africa. Stories of women raised in countries in which the islam reigns supreme. Stories of oppre4ssion in in a religious way but also in a cultural way. At times these two influences are hard to distinguish. Is the second rate position of girls and women a cultural phenomenon or a religious one? Or is a combination that is hard to seperate?
In this book (The veil of Fear) Samia Shariff tells her story and the story of her children. She was born in the French capital city Paris, where her parents lived and her father was a well to do man in bussiness. When Samia is seven years young her parents decide to move back to Algiers, to go back to their roots and to find a better atmosphere to raise their children. In he family of Samia (two boys + Samia + two boys + a girl) the word ‘honour’is very important. The children and especially the girls have to bring honour to the family. In everything they do it is honour, honour and honour. This becomes very clear when Samia is forced into a marriage when she is about 16 years young. The much older man (Abdel) works in France at the company of Samia’s father. One man is now shifting the reponsibility for Samia’s life to another man. her life is ruled by men, her father, her husband, her brotehers, they all defend honour, honour in girls. There seems to be little honour in the life of the men. Samia is raped by her husband, time after time. What kind of honour is this? Abdel has a maitresse. What is honourable about that? He drinks alcoholic drinks. What is honourable about that in islamic circles?
The first born som Amir is taken away by the mother of Samir and taken to Algeria. Abdel consents and it seems he is heavely rewarded in financial terms fror this action. It is shock for Samir that she has no say in raising her son. Her second child is her daughter Norah, the next one is her daughter Mélissa. The family moves to Algeria to continue life there, but life is still a hardship for Samia. When she is about 30 years her huisband rejects her and in 1994 the divorce is finalized. This paves the way for a second marriage, this time with Hussein, a loving man and soldier, who protects her. Twins are now on their way. Samia finds out from her eldest daughter Norah that she has been misused by her father Abdel. Samia not only is threathened by her immediate relatives (including her brothers) but also by others, often nameless, who make phonecalls, paint slogans on the wall of her house, who show a finger sliding across a throat.
Samia decides to flee her country. She wants to take her children. It takes a real effort to do so. We follow her attempts and her longing for freedom. Samia has written an impressive account of her life. An attempt to live honourably. An attempt to live like a human being, not a second class human being.
She attempted to write an honourable book and she succeeded.
Samia Shariff – Le voile de la peur – 2006
This book has been translated into German: Samia Shariff – Der Schleier der Angst