Assia, Mama's here

“This book is for you, my Assia. When you are older, you will need to know.You will need to know that your father does not see you because he preferred the path of irrationality. And I cannot live without you.”

Meriam separated from her husband in 2012. He had been recruited by the al-Nusra Front, a jihadi group fightingBashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria. She had watched his radicalization as he embraced the ideals of an extremistIslam that rejected her rights as a woman and, above all, denied her daughter a childhood: Assia was not to playwith other children or listen to music and Meriam was a evildoer, because she wanted to drive a car and go to work.

Their separation might have been a simple matter of deciding when Assia would be with whom, but the alldevouringspirit of jihad demanded much more. Assia’s father took the child far away from her mother to a placewhere she was in danger. “I’d prefer Assia to die a martyr than go back to France,” he told Meriam on the phoneone day. In the background, she could hear her daughter sobbing and calling to her: “Mama, mama!”

Life without Assia was no life at all. Meriam was ready to die if she had to, rather than abandon her daughter.At the end of August, she made up her mind to go and look for her child with no official help. Although theFrench authorities warned her that the trip could put her in extreme danger, she finally traveled to Turkey withher brother and managed to talk her husband into meeting her at a hotel in Hatay near the Syrian border.

On September 2, the Turkish authorities gave Assia to her mother. They returned to France together.


MERIAM RHAIEM is a young woman of twenty-five. On October 14, 2013, her radicalized ex-husband kidnappedtheir one-year-old daughter and took her to Syria to join the fight… but Meriam never gave up. She left to bringher little girl back from Turkey. Finally, they returned to France together on September 2, 2014.


Publication date: April 2015 

Pages: 176

Rights available: Poland

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