Gacemi, Baya

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Gacemi, Baya

PERSONAL:

Born in Annaba, Algeria.

CAREER:

Freelance journalist. Former editor in chief of Observateur; former founding editor of the Tribune in Algeria.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Prize from 'el Khabar newspaper.

WRITINGS:

Moi, Nadia, Femme d'un émir du GIA, Seuil (Paris, France), 1998, translated by Paul Coté and Constantina Mitchell as I, Nadia, Wife of a Terrorist, foreword by Fanny Colonna, introduction by Edmund Burke III, University of Nebraska Press (Lincoln, NE), 2006.

Contributor to periodicals, including L'Express and La Repubblica.

SIDELIGHTS:

Journalist Baya Gacemi is the founder of the Tribune newspaper in Algeria. Her first book, Moi, Nadia, Femme d'un émir du GIA, is based on 1997 interviews she conducted with a woman who is the widow of an Algerian terrorist. Both women have had to hide from authorities, though for different reasons. Nadia, whose real name is not revealed, was drawn into complicity with the terrorist organization Armed Islamic Group (known by the French abbreviation GIA) through her late husband. Originally published in France, where it drew a large readership because of that country's interest in its former colony and the terrorism threat there, it was translated in 2006 as I, Nadia, Wife of a Terrorist.

Through her interviews with Nadia, Gacemi pieces together the story of how the teenager married the poor, roguish thief Ahmed. Ahmed was drawn into the militant Islamic group, and Nadia supported him with a sense of dread and fear, as well as a mix of pride as her husband rose through the ranks to become an emir. Establishing itself in the village of Hal Bounab, at first the GIA was welcomed as defenders of the poor against an indifferent government. However, as the GIA grew in power in the 1980s, its members began to oppress, torture, and kill the local people. Ahmed is eventually captured and killed, and Nadia, terrified by her loss of status, though relieved her abusive husband is gone, must seek forgiveness from her family and survive for the sake of her son.

Critics praised I, Nadia for its intimate glimpse into the minds of Islamic terrorists. "The book's beauty is that it captures the jihadists' language, giving us a real feel for the way these people think and operate," observed Youssef Aboul-Enein in the Military Review. Aboul-Enein added: "For those interested in learning how jihadists and militants are perverting Islam, Gacemi's book is a good place to start." "Her account of how a whole community can be seduced by terrorists is frightening and invaluable," a Publishers Weekly contributor similarly asserted. Deborah Donovan concluded in Booklist that the author's "unique and invaluable portrayal of this personal side of terrorism is shocking, poignant, and impossible to forget."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, May 1, 2006, Deborah Donovan, review of I, Nadia, Wife of a Terrorist, p. 66.

ForeWord, September-October, 2006, Aimee Sabo, review of I, Nadia.

Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2006, review of I, Nadia, p. 390.

Middle East Journal, autumn, 2006, Carla E. Humud, review of I, Nadia, p. 831.

Military Review, July-August, 2006, Youssef Aboul-Enein, review of I, Nadia, p. 116.

Publishers Weekly, April 10, 2006, review of I, Nadia, p. 61.

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