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Moroccan-Dutch writer Naima El Bezaz takes her own life at 46

Written by FDM

Known for her feminist positions, her daring writings on religion and her outspokenness, the Dutch writer of Moroccan decent Naima El Bezaz, 46, committed suicide on August 7, 2020. Her death caused a shock in the world of literature and freedom of expression activism.

The announcement of Naima El Bezaz’s death was made by another writer of Moroccan origin Abdelkader Benali. On his Twitter account, he paid tribute to the one who “immediately impressed him. Smart and witty. She told me what I had to do as a writer to be successful ”. The Dutch newspaper Hart van Nederland also reported that Naïma El Bezaz took her own life.

Originally from Tighssalin in the Khenifra region, Naïma El Bezaz emigrated with her family to the Netherlands at the age of 4. As a topic of mockery and jeers because of her North African origins, she wanted to write a book at a very young age. But  “even my teachers didn’t take me seriously. People were looking at me and saying to each other constantly: this one is never going to succeed! ” she once wrote.

At the age of 21, El Bezaz defied all predictions and wrote her first novel “De weg naar het noorden” (The Northern Route). The novel which tells the story of a Moroccan woman who aspires to a better life in Europe won the Jenny Smelik-IBBY award in 1996. The book is also ranked in the top 10 of the most purchased books in the Netherlands. In 2008, she publishes Het gelukssyndroom (The happiness syndrome) De Verstotene (The pariah) in which she writes about her struggle with depression. The notoriety of Naïma El Bezaz is confirmed with her book Vinex Women, named after her district of residence Vinex in Zaandam, a Dutch town. Published in 2010, the book is not only a merciless dive into the world of sexuality but also a detailed description of her life in this neighborhood.

Her third book is just as disturbing since she talks about double culture, identity, and the impossible integration, referring to her own childhood and her emigration to the Netherlands. “In the service of the devil” published in 2013 is her latest work.

The writings of Naïma El Bezzaz which evoke without taboos the condition of women, sexuality, immigration, identity, Islam, and depression have been strongly criticized by certain members of the Moroccan community and extremists. Insulted and assaulted in the street, she even received death threats. She suffered severe depression for long periods between 2013 and 2020.

Her tragic death comes barely a month after she announced her return on Twitter. Naïma El Bezaz was married and had two daughters.