“Is ‘depsive’ something Dutch, something European? Is that part of integration? ” said the mother figure in the short story ‘Taboo’ by Naima El Bezaz from 2007. The main character – an alter ego of the author – not only struggles with depressive complaints, but also with the great misunderstanding of mental illness in her environment, the Moroccan community. “Moroccans are not depsive,” says the mother in the story. “It’s in your head! Don’t think about it anymore. Eat well and dress more feminine. ”
Writer Naima El Bezaz has died at the age of 46, her publisher confirmed on Saturday NRC. The Moroccan-Dutch author, who suffered from depression, took her own life.
El Bezaz became best known for the book Vinex women (2010), of which more than 60,000 copies have been sold. The novel was a success because El Bezaz mercilessly and humorously sketched the morals of the Dutch Vinex district: ordinary customs, adultery and appearances. The book also provoked resistance: neighbors of the writer, who herself lived in a Vinex neighborhood in Zaandam, recognized themselves personally in the prose and came to express their dissatisfaction. “Too autobiographical, too recognizable.” Not because she put things down, but because she wrote down the truth, the writer herself stated in an interview: “Because I happened to be the one who had the guts to write this down, this smear was unleashed against me.”
Also read this interview with Naima El Bezaz from 2012: ‘I am a barrel full of prejudices’
Emigration to the Netherlands
El Bezaz was born in 1974 in Meknès, Morocco, and as a young child migrated with her family to the Netherlands, where she grew up in a guest worker family in Alphen aan den Rijn. Her literary debut The road to the north (1995) became an immediate success – mainly because of the subject: the emigration to the Netherlands of an unemployed man from Morocco. El Bezaz was one of the first authors in Dutch literature with a guest worker background, alongside writers such as Abdelkader Benali and Hafid Bouazza, who made their debut in 1996.
El Bezaz was received with the most criticism from them: her strength was not exactly in a special style, according to reviewers. “I write raw,” said El Bezaz: “You must feel that it comes straight from my head and heart.” Her strength was in breaking down social taboos. Bee Vinex women It was not the first time that a fuss arose about her prose. She was referred to as a ‘nest polluter’ in anonymous abuses on the internet, for explicit sex passages in her second novel Mistress of the devil (2002). Following her novel The rejected (2006), about a Muslim woman breaking free from a conservative environment, El Bezaz was threatened with death. At the end of 2006, a 25-year-old man was sentenced to community service for sedition and threats, when he called on the website marokko.nl to stone and spit on El Bezaz because she “makes fun of us Moroccans”. She wrote about the depression that this triggered in El Bezaz – she had been struggling with her mental health for some time The happiness syndrome (2008).
“It would be very bad not to write for fear,” El Bezaz said in 2006, and she continued to take that position after the storm of criticism. “I am for openness, and I see it as my right to discuss taboos in the Moroccan ‘culture of shame’, of which I am also a part,” she said in 2008. For example, Naima El Bezaz, who has a husband and two daughters. leave behind, also go down in history: as an author who told the story of the second generation of Moroccan Dutch before it was accepted.