Stolen Lives by Malika Oufkir and Michele Fitoussi

Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail by Malika Oufkir and Michele Fitoussi.

Recommended by Laura at Musings: “In 1972, Moroccan defense minister General Mohamed Oufkir staged a failed coup d’etat against King Hassan II. Oufkir was reported to have committed suicide, but was found with five bullet wounds. In retaliation for the coup, his entire family was imprisoned: Oufkir’s wife, Fatima, and his children Malika, Raouf, Soukaina, Maria, Myriam, and Abdellatif. A cousin, Achoura, and a close family friend, Halima, joined them. Malika Oufkir was 17 years old; her brother Abdellatif was only 3.”

This nonfiction account of a family kept in cruel and unusual confinement in the desert of Morocco reminded me of nothing so much as Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. The Oufkir family were so badly treated and so cut off from the world for so very long that they, like the fictional Dr. Manette, were impaired in body, mind and soul when they were finally freed from the prisons of King Hassan II.

Malika Oufkir’s story is that of the spoiled rich girl brought low by injustice and subsequently redeemed through suffering and finally freed to appreciate a new life and love. It’s a classic plot, and the fact that it’s a true story, as trustworthy as memoirs can be these days, makes it all the more compelling. Some parts of the story are difficult to believe: Malika says that as a nineteen year old, educated and well-travelled, she had no idea that her father was a murderer and a tyrant. Perhaps not, but then again, maybe she chose her own blind spots. She also describes scenes of treatment so horrendous during the twenty years of her imprisonment that I would choose to disbelieve her testimony if I could, not wanting to believe that man can be so cruel to his fellowman. Western law embodies the principle that no person’s family should be punished for that person’s crimes. Malika, her mother, and her five brothers and sisters are cruelly punished for the crimes of Malika’s father, a fate that Ms. Oufkir says was not uncommon in Morocco under Hassan II.

An amazing story human resilience and courage. Read it and weep.

8 thoughts on “Stolen Lives by Malika Oufkir and Michele Fitoussi

  1. Glad you liked this book!!

  2. This books sounds fascinating but one that would be really difficult to read.

  3. Thanks for writing up such a good review.

  4. Great review. I’ve looked this book over several times but decided in the end, it was too intense for me.

  5. margo

    I have really mixed feelings about this book. I can’t even begin to personally understand the happenings. However, there were so many areas that did not make sense. There were things they did that could not have happened the way it is written. For instance, how could the mother make and sew outfits for all of them to escape. Sometimes things were told that sounded very awful and then other things, you wonder how could they do that if they were such prisoners. It left me very confused and I sometimes wondered if this is what really happened. If it is true, I am happy for all of them now.

  6. I read “Stolen Lives” in 2 days…I couldn’t put it down. It was a great account of survival. It was excellent!

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