Hassouna Mosbahi Guested at Goethe-Institut Los Angeles: A Report Translated by Ali Znaidi


Tunisian Writer Hassouna Mosbahi

Hassouna Mosbahi: Let Us Safely Pluck the Fruits of the Revolution!

Los Angeles-A meeting with Tunisian writer Hassouna Mosbahi took center stage in Goethe-Institut Los Angeles in the evening of Thursday, July 19, 2012 at 7:00 pm. where an American actor read passages of his novel A Tunisian Tale published in the beginning of this year by the American University in Cairo and translated into English by Arabist Max Weiss, Assistant Professor at Princeton University.

Hassouna Mosbahi who is currently residing through a German grant in the Villa Aurora in Pacific Palisades, near Los Angeles spoke about the situations in his country after the collapse of Ben Ali’s regime. He also spoke about the writers who influenced him in the beginning of his literary life like Albert Camus, William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, and others.

The Tunisian writer said that the status quo in his country is habitually stronger than what even Kafka’s imagination could imagine and that’s why he usually seeks to start from realistic events to observe them in a literary way with the help of new technologies drawn from cinema and the world of image in general. Professor David Hirsch who is versed in Arab culture translated Hassouna Mosbahi’s interventions for the audience. In the beginning of this meeting Hassouna Mosbahi gave the following speech:

Dear audience, good evening!

In the beginning of this little speech I would like to thank

and be grateful for the honourable Fareed Majari who gave

me the opportunity to meet and talk to you. I would also

like to thank Mrs. Margit Kleinman, the director of the Villa

Aurora where I currently reside and her assistants who provide

me with all what I need financially and literally to finish

my new work.

I come from Tunisia, the country where the spark of

what will be labeled the Arab Spring started and toppled

authoritarian and corrupted regimes. But what happened

during the aftermath of these revolutions and what is currently

happening is dangerous and frightening.

The revolution that broke out in my country for the sake of

freedom, dignity, and bread is witnessing successive relapses

that might make it derail its path and confiscate the aspirations

of those who sparked it, particularly the newer generations;

males and females, who can no longer endure injustice, and the

political, social, and cultural coercion.

Those who draw benefits from these derailments are the

benighted obscurant powers that refuse the civilisation of

nowadays, and the values of freedom and democracy and

that disguise themselves in religion or what they call

“the sanctities” to return Tunisian society which has achieved

an important progress in many fields related to the woman’s

freedom, the dissemination of education, and the enlightening

of brains back to the darkness of the Middle Ages.

As an intellectual and writer who spent a great portion of my life

in exiles to preserve my freedom in life and writing I raise my

voice here in front of you to strongly express utter disapproval

of the attacks that target my colleagues, the writers, artists, poets,

and academics and behind which stood traders in religion who instigate

violence and agitation and work in public and in private on

establishing new inquisition tribunals that permit to judge all those

who oppose their ideas and opinions and all those who try to face

and prevent them from destroying the revolution of freedom, dignity,

and bread as unbelievers and declare the killing of them. So it

is no way to go backward.

Those who are seduced by a black past in which all manifestations of

oppression and injustice appear have no right to confiscate the aspirations

of the newer generations that want to enjoy the fruits of the era of

democracy, progress, and social justice.

My thanks and respect for all of you!

Originally appeared in alarab.co.uk 22/07/2012.

You can read the original text in Arabic here.

Translated from Arabic by Ali Znaidi.

About aliznaidi

Ali Znaidi lives in Redeyef, Tunisia. He graduated with a BA in Anglo-American Studies in 2002. He teaches English at Tunisian public secondary schools. He writes poetry and has an interest in literature, languages, and literary translations. His work has appeared here and there and is scheduled to appear elsewhere . At moments of revelation, he smokes and drinks green tea with mint while pondering.
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