Photo: Jan Boeve / De Balie

On the power of art, freedom, forgiveness and enlightenment.

Operation Freedom: Mohamedou Ould Slahi

Sometimes art is a more powerful tool than we think. Especially when it comes to defending human rights. As of May 2019, Rajae initiated bringing writer Mohamedou Ould Slahi (The Mauritanian), who was unjustly imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay for 14 years, to the Netherlands. First she approached the director of de Balie, who responded enthusiastically, and in 2020 an opportunity presented itself, as NITE/Club Guy & Roni were eager to collaborate on this initiative. From 2020, she mediated between NITE/Club Guy & Roni, Mohamedou and de Balie in that trajectory. At the end of 2021, Mohamedou was allowed to come to the Netherlands as artist in residence of both BIS institutions. This broke a diplomatic blockade on his passport and through art, enabled Mohamedou's space to speak safely and freely about his experiences.

Trailer: The Mauritanian, based on Mohamedou's book; Guantanamo Diary.

Mohamedou's artistic development in the Netherlands

NITE/Club Guy & Roni created the dance performance Freedom. Mohamedou wrote the piece. Freedom has received rave reviews in theaters in the Netherlands, in Germany, Korea and will soon play in France. An educational version of Freedom has also been made for schools in collaboration with refugee theater community Babaddaar. For De Balie, Mohamedou is curating a series of talks on freedom, forgiveness and enlightenment. Mohamedou has since won a PAX Peace Dove. This was awarded on Sept. 21, 2022. He has also won an Emmy award for his documentary. Meanwhile, his work permit has also been renewed and on November 16 he was welcomed to the European Parliament, to speak about his experiences and to screen his film.

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