Wide Angle

Latifa Ibn Ziaten, the struggle of a Nobel Peace Prize candidate

Hospitalité d’Abraham, an association based in Lyon, France, submitted the nomination of Latifa Ibn Ziaten for the Nobel Peace Prize. An opportunity to take a look at the struggle of the activist who founded Imad Ibn Ziaten’s association for youth and peace.

Latifa Ibn Ziaten, a Moroccan activist and candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize./Ph. Facebook
Estimated read time: 3'

Headed by the priest Christian Delorme, L'Hospitalité d'Abraham, an association based in Lyon, submitted the nomination of Latifa Ibn Ziaten for the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize. The Moroccan-French activist founded in 2012 Imad Ibn Ziaten, an association that assists the youth and advocates for Peace and which is among the 375 candidates to be selected by the Norwegian Nobel Committee.

For those who don’t know Latifa Ibn Ziaten, this candidacy, is a direct recognition of her efforts and instrumental struggle inn the educational field in both France and Morocco. Since 2012, the woman and through her association, gave hope to young Moroccan people in France.

«Despite the great pain caused by the death of my son, I try to bring peace, happiness and love wherever I go to help the youth. I do not want to see another Mohamed Merah among these youngsters. It is my daily struggle, a struggle that pushes me to visit schools, prisons, and families to talk to them about the importance of education», she told Yabiladi.

Repairing lives

Carrying her heavy broken heart, Latifa had her son Imad, a soldier at the French army, assassinated by terrorist Mohamed Merah on the 11th of March 2012, during a shooting in Toulouse. After this tragic attack, the activist refused to surrender to terror, choosing to dedicate the rest of her life to others. She is convinced that youngsters need to learn from her son’s story. Speaking to Yabiladi, she revealed what triggered the activist in her :

«For 25 years, I worked as a teacher for several schools. I have seen a lot of children who were in difficult situations lacking the support of their parents and getting overwhelmed. My job is to meet these young people who are left behind and help them have a fresh start. What I do, is make them believe in what they think and have some self-esteem, because if they don’t do it today life will be harder for them when they are adults. Accumulating disappointments will for sure kill their ambitions».

For these reasons, Latifa Ibn Ziaten wants to restore these kids’ self-esteem, and motivation : «I advise them to think, dream and be strong and have faith in their selves and what they stand for. The presence of parents, family and most precisely communication is the key element to a healthy education for the future generation. And, unfortunately, when these people are absent, it is our duty to be there for the young people and assist them.»

A fight that crosses the Mediterranean

Latifa Ibn Ziaten travels throughout France and Morocco, making of the association that bears the name of her son, a bridge bringing young people in the two countries together. Indeed, the Tetouan native and mother of five children has been able to observe the evolution of the Moroccan society, which she keeps closely an eye on :

«Moroccans are known for their values of respect, love and sharing. But unfortunately, I have noticed that parents are absent even in my native country. Young people are influenced by their parents’ attitudes, who are less communicating lately».

In addition to that, and for having visited several Moroccan schools, Latifa Ibn Ziaten met many kids who were struggling : «The class rooms are very overloaded. In some areas teachers come from far away, they are nervous. Children walk for miles to attend their classes. This kills their motivation and parents rarely react to that... But these young people have nothing to do with it. It is the responsibility of adults to teach them noble values that make them grow».

A library for everyone

As part of its educational activities, Latifa Ibn Ziaten is proud to have opened four libraries. Each one of them is located in a small town or village in northern Morocco (Fnidek, M'diq, Belyounech and Martil), where children rarely have access to books and readings outside school.

However, setting up such a project was not easy at all : «The procedures were long and exhausting and it took forever to finally see the result of the project».

Today, only three of these libraries are open. «The first library that was opened finally got closed a few months ago», said Ibn Ziaten with a sigh. «It is a shame and the blame is to be put on adults again. They must give future generations a chance, open their horizons and help them evolve. How can we close a space that makes this possible ?»

Disappointed by the closing of her library, Latifa Ibn Ziaten sometimes doubts the utility of her initiatives in Morocco. But it does not mean that she lets herself be defeated: «I am determined. I will not let go. Nowadays, many mention the promotion of the education of children and teenagers. But I think that we should also look at adults, because it is an urgent matter to raise awareness among our kids’ role models».

Driven by the idea, the activist went to Ouarzazate last week to meet students from the region:

«I was moved by the locals’ strong will, so I visited children in five classes there. They are full of energy and just waiting to learn and exchange. These kids make me optimistic because they remind me of what keeps me fighting».

To honor her commitment and noble fight, Latifa Ibn Ziaten received the Legion of Honour on the 11th of March 2016, in France. On the 4th of October, 2017 the documentary «Latifa, le cœur au combat» was released. Co-produced by Oliver Peyon and Cyril Brody, who follow the activist in her daily life, the film sheds light on the association’s activities. Today, it is her new title as a Noble Peace Prize candidate that will render homage to her efforts, recognizing her commitment and determination.

Be the first one to comment on our articles...