Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail
by Malika Oufkir
(When I read this it was titled La Prisonniere)
Tangiers, Marrakesh, Casablanca....romantic words to us who live half a world away. But the reality of life there under the reign of an absolute monarch whose vindictiveness saw no bounds nearly broke the hearts and spirits of a once-proud family.
Malika Oufkir was the oldest daughter of the King of Morocco's closest aide. Adopted at age five by King Muhammad V to be a companion to his daughter, she lived at the royal court of Rabat and grew up in the palace among the royal wives and concubines, her life one of privilege and opulence.
When Malika was sixteen she returned to her family home and her golden life continued as before, steeped in wealth and luxury. But two years later, after attempting to assassinate the new king Hassan II, her father was arrested for treason and swiftly executed. Malika, her mother and her five younger brothers and sisters were seized and thrown into an isolated desert jail. For fifteen years, they had no contact with the outside world, and lived in increasingly barbaric and inhumane conditions, their last ten years in solitary confinement.
Malika and her siblings, using their bare hands and teaspoons, dug a tunnel and made a daring escape. Not knowing who to trust, they finally made their story known and, though they were recaptured after five days, the ensuing public outrage resulted in house arrest rather than a return to prison. In 1996, Malika was finally permitted to leave Morocco to begin a new life in exile.
~ Malika Oufkir was born in 1953. She now lives in Florida.
~ This is a book that stirs readers to great sympathy, even outrage over what happened to this family. It's not without controversy, however, the veracity of some of the incidents questioned.
~ “For fifteen years, Malika dreamt of food in all its wild, delicious varieties. Today she can barely eat. For fifteen years she dreamt of being held by a man. Today she can only make love when her husband takes excruciating, painstaking care. Fo fifteen years, she imagined the natural light outside her cell. Today she arely leaves her bedroom. It is small and dark, just like her desert prison.” – David Leser
~ Malika has been on Oprah and there is talk of making a movie based on the story.