- M. SAOUT
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A book released last spring is gaining notoriety for its balanced depiction of the Moroccan Sahara Conflict and the revealing of human rights violations by the Polisario. The book, Allah’s Garden: A True Story of a Forgotten War in the Sahara Desert of Morocco follows the tale of Azeddine, a young doctor captured by the militant group, the Polisario, on the border with Algeria in the mid-1970s and his subsequent 24-years in captivity.
Intertwined into the narrative is the author’s own story of serving a short stint with the Peace Corps in Morocco, and his eventual meeting and learning of Azeddine’s perilous plight. Through the grabbing narrative, the reader learns much about the historical and political aspects behind the conflict. In addition, the book divulges never-before released human rights abuses committed by the Polisario, the military arm of what Morocco sees as a false government representing Saharawis held near Tindouf, Algeria, known as the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR).
Hollowell’s book caught the attention of Yale University last summer and he was invited to speak about the issue at an institute for health and conflict in the Middle East. The ensuing book tour took him through Connecticut, New York City, and his home States of Indiana and Illinois. Also invited to Yale University were filmmakers and a world-renowned reporter from France who has reported on the issue. Allah’s Garden, a piece of investigative journalism sprinkled with aspects of creative nonfiction, offers a depiction of a “forgotten war” the media has not given the necessary due attention.
In the current climate of Saharawi activism, such as with Aminatou Haidar, the “Western Sahara” conflict has never had as many international eyes upon it. The Kingdom of Morocco is most likely working out the logistics of how to handle this and future episodes. A necessary and proper game plan is in order. The petitions and forthcoming demonstrations by the Moroccan-American community, if handled decorously, have the potential to impact the issue in positive ways.
Hollowell plans on submitting Allah’s Garden: A True Story of a Forgotten War in the Sahara Desert of Morocco to this year’s RFK Book Awards and has had a fair response from the organization. Hollowell hopes that the book offers another angle from which to view the conflict—a viewpoint of human rights violations and other illegal occurrences that have not yet been acknowledged by several organizations in the USA and abroad.
Hollowell also hopes to conduct a future book signing in Washington D.C. following the New Year. In addition, he has ambitions of presenting, alongside the protagonist of the book, a signed edition of Allah’s Garden to King Mohammed VI of Morocco.
For the latest reviews and information, please visit the Website at Allah’s Garden (http://www.allahs-garden.com), which also outlines a Morocco Trip Sweepstakes.