Publisher: Mounir Fatmi
Publication Date: February 02, 2018
Binding: Kobo eBook
I haven’t changed nationalities. I still travel with my Moroccan passport, which is a work of art in itself. That passport is filled with visas from several countries where I’ve shown my work these last few years. Traveling with a Moroccan passport is an adventure. I’m never sure I’ll get through customs. In addition to the fatigue of traveling, I have to face the stressful interviews by customs agents. One of the most traumatizing experiences I’ve had was with American customs, a few years back. After three hours of questioning and getting my fingerprints and my picture taken, the agent presented me with a bible and asked me to swear that everything I had told him about me and my relatives was the truth. I told him that the reason I was in this situation in the first place was because I’m supposed to be a Muslim and therefore I didn’t see why he was giving me a bible to swear the truth.
Without acknowledging the remark I had just made, he asked me again to swear on the bible, looking straight at me this time.
I put my hand on the bible. He asked me to raise the other hand and say: I swear. I swore. I just didn’t want him to send me off to Guantanamo under any pretense. That instant was for me a moment of extreme lucidity. No more illusions. I live in a world I am not able to understand.
Of course the customs agent was only doing his job, and his job required him to be afraid of me. His fear wounded me, and I carry it like a scar to this day.
I wanted to help him, but I couldn’t. The more I tried to reassure him, the more suspicious I grew to him.
I know that I am just a speck of dust in this machine. A black leg grafted on the body of another man. What I’m relating in this letter is nothing compared to what thousands of refugees endure, dodging death as they hope for a better world for them and their children. I’ve always believed that America could be a part of that world.