“Je ne savais plus comment marcher. Pendant sept ans, je n’avais marché qu’avec des chaînes aux pieds, à petits pas, tout doucement” – Jérôme Tubiana •
This graphic novel was brilliant, and taught me so much. Mohamed El Gorani’s life slipped through the cracks in one of the worst ways possible. Arrested by Pakistani forces and then sold to the CIA and shipped off to Guantanamo Bay just because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Treated like an adult when he was a minor, no one ever bothered to even source his birth certificate. The fact that he was wrongly arrested and sent to Guantanamo at the age of 14 was bad enough (accused of acts of terrorism in a year when he would have been only 7 years old! These accusations were made by fellow inmates who were promised meals or other bonuses if they corroborated stories) but even the act of liberation after torture had its own issues. Waiting for a country to accept him, being sent to Chad where he had never lived before, culture shock, lasting physical injuries, no job opportunities, STILL being perceived as a threat and being thrown in jail by authorities upon his release for no other reason than his last name. Apparently, people still treat you like a convict even when your name has been cleared. Also, just because the judges have declared you free doesn’t mean you walk free, it can take up to years for them to release you. There’s an entire section of Guantanamo that’s a prison for the liberated, either waiting for due process which can take years, or waiting for a country to acknowledge their citizenship which can be never.
Through all of this, he astonishingly kept his faith, kept praying, kept trying to make friends with both inmates and guards around him, respected the relationships he made and never gave up.
PS. There is a version in English, translated by Edward Gauvin
PPS. The quote says “I no longer knew how to walk. For seven years I had only walked with chains on my feet and with small, slow steps” 💔