I write about wounds, the eternal treasons of life. It's not very funny, but it's sincere. My commitment is to sincerity.
— Tahar Ben Jelloun
My characters are driven by a passionate desire for justice. They are rebellious and incorruptible.
We must have our say, not through violence, aggression or fear. We must speak out calmly and forcefully. We shall only be able to enter the new world era if we agree to engage in dialogue with the other side.
Be vigilant, for nothing one achieves lasts forever.
People must insist on the right to say no, to be alone, to stand out from the herd. Creative artists can say all this in their own way and in their own field, by hard, rigorous work.
There is a gulf between the Arab peoples and Arab intellectuals.
A modern civilization is only possible when it is accepted that singular beings exist and express themselves freely.
The intellectual, the man of thought, doubt and analysis, should give the best of himself.
We do not have many intellectuals who can speak out for us internationally. We have no writers who are recognized, respected and loved outside the Arab world.
Poetry is a form of mathematics, a highly rigorous relationship with words.
Poetry is not only a set of words which are chosen to relate to each other; it is something which goes much further than that to provide a glimpse of our vision of the world.
I don't feel guilty about expressing myself in French; nor do I feel that I am continuing the work of the colonizers.
My hope is that countries like Morocco will have investment to create work, so people don't have to leave.
The mistake we make is to attribute to religions the errors and fanaticism of human beings.
The power of the word in Morocco belonged to men and to the authorities. No one asked the point of view of poor people or women.
Real friendship, like real poetry, is extremely rare - and precious as a pearl.
I love life in spite of all that mars it. I love friendship, jokes and laughter.
I came to poetry through the urgent need to denounce injustice, exploitation, humiliation. I know that's not enough to change the world. But to remain silent would have been a kind of intolerable complicity.
We must stop posing as victims of the West and behaving negatively towards the West. We must participate with the West on an equal footing in the reconstruction of the world.
New ideas should confront old ideas. We must refer to the example of Europe. People have fought to make Europe what it is today. Freedom is not something that is served up on a plate.
To lead a country, you must periodically hold a national consultation in which people representing different programmes can make a bid for power.
Egypt has suffered more ordeals than the other countries to get where it is.
Intellectuals try to keep going. But their situation is very difficult. Those who have had the courage to voice their opposition have often paid a very high price.
The world does not look to us in the Arab world out of a healthy desire for knowledge.
My sensibility steers me toward writers who are out on their own.
I am a guest of the French language. My poems in French are born of my interaction with the French language, which is not the same as that of a French poet.
For me, poetry is a situation - a state of being, a way of facing life and facing history.
I belong to a specific category of writers, those who speak and write in a language different from that of their parents.
Emigration is no longer a solution; it's a defeat. People are risking death, drowning every day, but they're knocking on doors that are not open.
I am a Moroccan writer of French expression.
I read a poem every night, as others read a prayer.
In Morocco, it's possible to see the Atlantic and the Mediterranean at the same time.
I have written about the dispossessed, immigrants, the condition of women who do not enjoy the same legal rights as men, the Palestinians who are deprived of their land and condemned to exile.
It is through accepting other people in our own countries that we shall come to respect our neighbours and be respected in our turn.
There are very few great poets in the world.
It is impossible to disregard such an important medium as television. We should know how to use it, learn to work in it and express new values in it.
In the Arab world, there is no link between the cultural habits of peoples and the ways of thinking and creating of modern intellectuals. They are two separate worlds.
An individual voice can be heard in a choir that otherwise sings in unison. This is something that is not excused.
What have we achieved since the end of the Second World War? We have allowed petty, bourgeois regimes in which everything is average, mediocre.
We have no Arab intellectuals of international stature because we live in a state of generalized mediocrity. We are suspended in the pit without touching the bottom.
Beauty is first and foremost an emotion.
This universe can very well be expressed in words and syllables which are not those of one's mother tongue.
I do not use the language of my people. I can take liberties with certain themes which the Arabic language would not allow me to take.
In the '70s I was in exile; every time I went back I wondered if they'd take my passport away.
Religion has to stay in the heart, not in politics. It is private.
I'd thought sexuality was instinctive or natural, but it's profoundly linked to inner security and cultural context.
I liked Sartre's views but not his writing.
At 21, I discovered repression and injustice. The army would shoot students with real bullets.