In the name of a father: new installment of the chronicles of Emmanuel Carrère since the trial for the attacks in Paris | Culture


Azdyne Amimour, seen by illustrator Sergio Aquindo for 'Le Monde'.
Azdyne Amimour, seen by illustrator Sergio Aquindo for ‘Le Monde’.SERGIO AQUINDO (THE WORLD)

Chapter 16

1. Preventive detention

At 9:57 p.m., while shreds of Samy Amimour, pulverized by his explosive belt, rained down like confetti on the Bataclan room, Azdyne Amimour, his father, watched the match between France and Germany on TF1, which continued as if nothing had happened in the Stade de France. To avoid panic, no commercials interrupted the broadcast. The spectators who followed her were the last French to be informed of the massacres, which, however, had started half an hour earlier, at the gates of the stadium. Azdyne remembers a detonation at the beginning of the second half, a strange hesitation by Patrice Evra on the field and then nothing special: only at the end of the game, which the French team won, did he find out what had happened.

He called his wife to make sure nothing had happened to his youngest daughter, who was going out with friends that night. Azdyne says that he did not suspect for a second that Samy could be involved in the attacks, for the paradoxical reason that he had gone to wage jihad in Syria: if he was in Syria, he was not in Paris. So he didn’t get too worried until, on the night of the 15th to the 16th, a dozen men from the Raid [unidad de elite de la policía francesa] They force his door and handcuff him, his wife and his daughter, to take them to the DGSI headquarters. There they interrogated him for four days without him – he says – understanding why. Only at the end of the preventive detention did the prosecutor notify him, first, that his son had died in the Bataclan and, second, that in turn he had killed several dozen people in cold blood and even with a certain good humor.

2. Truths and lies

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To be born guilty, to be born a victim (Born guilty, born a victim) is the title of a book by Peter Sichrovsky published in 1991: a compilation of cross-interviews with children of deportees and children of Nazis. Is the weight that overwhelms you the same? Are their sufferings equally worthy of compassion? To answer yes to these two questions, perhaps an effort must be made, but morality and reason demand it: children are not responsible for the crimes of their parents. The reverse is less true: with a son who becomes a murderer we suspect that his family has something to do with it. That is why they not only asked Azdyne Amimour for an explanation, but also held him accountable when he appeared at the trial last Friday.

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Dressed in an old burlap jacket, he is a 74-year-old man, fatigued, elusive, but also “calm and laid-back,” as he describes himself, which did not make a good impression. Between France and Algeria he has carried out a little all the trades, cinema, ready to wear, small business, with ups and downs, nice cars and bankruptcies. He is not poor, in any case, nor a rigorous Muslim: he rarely goes to the mosque, he has not brought his children, and he even disguises himself as Santa Claus at Christmas. He says that Samy was a docile, loving, a little sad boy, and later an introverted teenager whose discomfort he perceived without knowing how to help him. I was hoping this would happen, most of the time it does. But it did not happen. Instead of happening, what happened is this horribly stereotyped process that so many parents, Muslim or not, refer to with the same feeling of helplessness and which is called radicalization.

Samy not only begins to pray, but to explain to his father that if his affairs are not going well it is because he does not pray and lives like a disbeliever. Samy adopts the Thursday. Samy accumulates in her room brochures titled “Yes! I have converted to Islam ”,“ How to increase my faith ”or“ The signs of the end of time ”. Samy repeats that September 11 is an aggression by the Jews. All this does not excite his father – although, on the last point, he also has doubts – but he prefers not to harass the boy. He prefers to think that it is better for him to stay in his room and follow the Salafi preachers online than to go out drinking and getting high.

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When Samy left for Syria in the fall of 2013, Azdyne did his best to believe that he was going there on a “humanitarian” mission, and caused a shock to the whole world when, at the trial, when speaking of Jabhat al-Nusra, the Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, which his son has gone to join, calls it an “association.” Even so: it is increasingly difficult to hide that all this smells bad. Of that row of kalashnikovs that are seen behind Samy when they speak on Skype, the boy says that they are not from him, but from some friends, which is not reassuring, we tell ourselves that they are the strangest friends he has: two years later It will be known that it was the band of torturers in which they will recruit the November 13 command.

In June 2014, Azdyne suffered a start. She makes the brave, somewhat crazy decision to travel to Syria in order to bring her son. Around this trip, which is a failure anyway, there is a little mystery. Azdyne told it on his return in an interview on The world where we rediscover all the obligatory passages of the stories of the parents of jihadists: the wait at the Turkish-Syrian border, the negotiations with the passers-by, the changes of vehicles, the interview with the emir of the constitution (battalion) … Later, shortly after the attacks, he changed his statement and confessed to the DGSI investigators that although he reached Turkey, he did not set foot in Syria.

Later still, he returned to the first version: “I was there.” He kept her at trial, at the cost of not a few inconsistencies and under the crossfire of increasingly aggressive questions from lawyers for both parties. It was prosecutor Camille Hennetier who calmly recalled that Azdyne was a witness, not a defendant, adding that her lie to the DGSI was childish, but humane and forgivable: in this context, who would boast of having gone to Syria? ? I agree with her and believe in the central scene of Azdyne’s story: his desolate encounter on the Syrian scree with the glacial Samy, who walks on crutches and has definitely gone over to the other side. Azdyne returns, heartbroken, first to Turkey and then to France. You will never see your son again. His body, in the morgue, will no longer be a body. And the last images that exist of the sad boy to whom he brought the gifts dressed as Santa Claus are the vindictive video of the Islamic State where he is seen laughing while beheading a prisoner.

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3. Unanswered questions

Two years after the attacks, Georges Salines, whose daughter Lola was murdered in the Bataclan, received a letter from Azdyne Amimour saying: “I want to talk to you about this tragic event because I too feel like a victim because of my son.” . The request initially stunned Salines, but he accepted it. Their friendship led to a book for two voices, We have the words left (We are left with the words) (1). Two mourning parents talk to each other, the son of one perhaps fired the bullet that killed the daughter of the other. As you read his dialogue, you wonder: isn’t it even more terrible to have a murderous son than a murdered daughter? I have the impression that Salines is the one who asks himself this dizzying question.

Others follow, arising in a cascade: in the place of his interlocutor, would he have come out more gracefully? Would you have known to stop your son on the road to disaster? With what words, what acts? What about me, if my sons or my daughter …? I don’t know, nobody knows. All I know is that at midnight on November 20, 2015, Azdyne Amimour and his wife were released from pre-trial detention, that they took a taxi to return home, that they remained silent throughout the journey, and that they have never returned to talk about your child.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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