Tahar Ben Jelloun: A Poem for Fatima – Remembering Sabra and Shatila…

A Poem for Fatima

They came in through the roof
They closed the doors and windows
They stuffed a fistful of sand into her mouth and
nostrils, Fatima.
Their hands ripped her stomach
blood pooled
they urinated on her face.
Fatima took the statue’s hand
and walked lightly between the trees and the
sleeping children.
She reached the sea
her body raised above death.

Tahar Ben Jelloun’s The Rising of the Ashes (2010) is a poetry collection by the French-Moroccan author, half of which is addressed to the victims of Sabra and Shatila. It includes this segment, entitled “Fatima Abou Mayyala”.

The Sabra and Shatila massacre takes place in the Sabra and Shatila Palestinian refugee camps in Beirut, Lebanon between September 16 and September 18, 1982, during the Lebanese civil war. Palestinian and Lebanese civilians are massacred in the camps by Christian Lebanese Phalangists while Israeli forces surround the camp.

The Israeli Forces occupy Beirut and dominate the refugee camps of Palestinians. The Lebanese Phalangist, also called Lebanese Forces militia group, enter the camp and murders inhabitants during the night. The exact number of victims is disputed, from 700–800 to 3,500.

Israeli forces enable the entrance of the group to the refugee camps, by providing them transportation from outside Beirut and firing illuminating flares over the camps.



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