Meet Mohamedou Salahi: The Man Held in Guantanamo for 18 Years Without a Charge

Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp, also known as GTMO or Guantanamo is a prison famous for the depressing horror stories of imprisonment and torture. Located on the coast of Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, this prison held prisoners without trial and reportedly tortured them. This camp is considered by Amnesty International to violate the fifth and fourteenth amendments of the U.S. Constitution. The film, the Mauritanian is based off of the experiences of a man called Mohamedou Salahi who was held in Guantanamo Bay.

Who is Mohamedou Salahi?

Mohamedou Salahi was born in 1970 in the Islamic Republic, Mauritania and memorised the Quran at a young age. He was held and interrogated in Mauritania, Jordan and Afghanistan before being held in Cuba in 2002 by the U.S. government with accusations of supporting and recruiting for al-Qaeda. 

After being held for a total of 18 years without charge in multiple locations, Salahi decided to share the story of his horrific experiences in Guantanamo Bay. 

Salahi’s book entitled; Guantanamo Diary was published in 2015 while he was still detained and became a Sunday Times and New York Times Bestseller. He narrates that in Guantanamo he was subjected to isolation, temperature extremes, beatings and sexual humiliation. On one occasion, he describes being taken out onto a boat, blindfolded, and states that they carried out a mock execution

The Synopsis

“Since 2002, Mohamedou Ould Salahi has been imprisoned at the detainee camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. In all these years, the United States has never charged him with a crime. Although he was ordered to be released by a federal judge, the U.S. government fought that decision, and there is no sign that the United States plans to let him go.

Three years into his captivity Salahi began a diary, recounting his life before he disappeared into U.S. custody and daily life as a detainee. His diary is not merely a vivid record of a miscarriage of justice, but a deeply personal memoir – terrifying, darkly humorous, and surprisingly gracious. Published now for the first time, Guantánamo Diary is a document of immense historical importance.”

The Mauritanian Film

The Mauritanian is a screenplay based on the memoir of Salahi and is being released in 2021. The legal drama is directed by Kevin Macdonald and stars Jodie Foster and Benedict Cumberbatch. This movie produced by BBC Film is set to transform the film industry as it tells the world of the corruption that occurred and the failure to implement constitutional rights. 

Why is this Book and Movie Important For the Muslim Community? 

Mohamedou Slahi is not the first to be profiled and unlawfully held with the single crime of being Muslim. But we need to work together to make sure that he is the last.

His experiences are an example of an egregious miscarriage of justice and platforms the significance of the Muslim experience in the West post 9-11. It brings about questions of identity, state-sanctioned and implemented Islamophobia and the hypocrisy of justice in the case of Muslims globally. 

An Exclusive Event with Jodie Foster and Mohamedou Slahi

The world’s premier network of Western Muslim leaders, Concordia Forum has put together an exclusive Facebook Live bringing together Academy awarding-winning actor, director and producer Jodie Foster and the author Mohamedou Ould Salahi, Academy award wining diretor Kevin Mcdonald and famous human rights lawyer Nancy Hollander for a groundbreaking insight into the background story and the production of the upcoming feature film. 

Hosted by the President (and founder) of the Concordia Forum, Muddassar Ahmed, and the founder of the undisclosed podcast, Rabia Chaudry.

The event will be taking place on Wednesday 3rd February 2021 at 6 pm GMT (10 am PST) and can be accessed here.

Written by Hafsah Dabiri

Editor in Chief at Mvslim. Diversity and Inclusion advocate. Currently taking the road less travelled. Praying I don’t get lost :sweat_smile: