(Morocco, 1972) is a publicist, columnist, writer, and poet. In 2014 he won the 2013 E. du Perron Prize for his novel Yemma, based on the story of his mother, who has a stroke and ends up in care institutions not geared to illiterate Moroccans. Benzakour grew up in a first-generation family of migrant workers in Zwijndrecht, NL, where he became a city councillor while studying sociology and public administration. As of 1998 he has taken part in public debates on issues ranging from the long arm of the Moroccan government to the squandering of leftist ideology by the Dutch Labour Party to the captive polar bear Knut. His columns and opinion pieces for the Volkskrant newspaper and other publications regularly stir things up, and have been collected in Osama's Grot, Allah, Holland en ik (Osama's Cave, Allah, Holland and Me, 2005) and Stinkende heelmeesters (Stinking Surgeons, 2008). His book Abou Jahjah, nieuwlichter of oplichter? (Abou Jahjah: Innovator or swindler?, 2004) describes how the Netherlands and Belgium handled the Muslim activist.(2019)
Archive available for: Mohammed Benzakour
Opening Night: Free the Word!
With: David Van Reybrouck, Dinar Rahayu, Farah Karimi, John Ralston Saul, Joris Wijsmuller, Karl Ove Knausgård, Leela Corman, Mano Bouzamour, Manon Uphoff, Mohammed Benzakour, Nelleke Noordervliet, Pauni Trio, Petra Stienen, Razan al-Maghrabi, Ton van de Langkruis
A special opening night featuring a keynote speech by Karl Ove Knausgård, the Oxfam Novib PEN Awards for Freedom of Expression, a debate moderated by Petra Stienen, and concluding words by David Van Reybrouck.
Freedom of speech and the power of the word are central issues on the festival's opening night. The president of PEN International, John Ralston Saul, will introduce the Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgård, who delivers the keynote Free Word Speech. Farah Karimi, director of Oxfam Novib will announce the laureates of the prestigious Oxfam Novib PEN Awards for Freedom of Expression. The awards honour writers who seek out and propagate the truth, sometimes at the risk of their own lives. Razan al-Maghrabi was one of the laureates, who could be present at the festival to receive the award. After an interview with Manon Uphoff (president of PEN Nederland), there will be adebate, moderated by Petra Stienen, on religious extremism and the value of provocation. Panellists include writers Mohammed Benzakour, Mano Bouzamour, cartoonist Leela Corman and Dinar Rahayu (Indonesia). David Van Reybrouck rounds out the evening with one his poems. After the programme, Writers Unlimited chair Nelleke Noordervliet and Alderman for culture of The Hague Joris Wijsmuller adress founder and festivaldirector Ton van de Langkruis on the occasion of the 20th edition of the festival. This event was put together with the collaboration of PEN International, PEN Nederland and Oxfam Novib.
Wintercafé 1: Godless in Morocco
A programme on rule breaking heart and soul: Berber writer Mohamed Choukri from Morocco. In his autobiographical novel For Bread Alone (1973) he wrote about everything God had forbidden; his youth as a vagabond in Tangier, where he survived in a world of violence, prostitution, alcohol and drugs. When in 1973 For Bread Alone appeared in English, Tennessee Williams called it 'a true document of human desperation, shattering in its impact.' Morocco banned the book until 2000, three years before Choukri's death. Three Moroccan writers talk about the meaning of Choukri for them today: the poet Ali Amazigh, who learned to write in later life, just like Choukri, and who is now writing a confession novel; Naima Albdiouni whose debut novel Voyeur (2008) is also set in Tangier, and columnist Mohammed Benzakour, who, like Choukri, seeks controversy and pursues it. Host: Asis Aynan.