It is dusty and hectic in the Moroccan slums where the brothers Yachine and Hamid grow up in a world of drugs and crime. Gruesome film in which a poverty-stricken community becomes a breeding ground for Islamic fundamentalism and extremism.
Inspired by the novel Les étoiles de Sidi Moumen by Mahi Binebine, Les Chevaux de Dieu tells the story of two brothers who grow up in a poor neighbourhood in Casablanca. At an early age they become familiar with drugs and crime. Through a mixture of poverty, dissatisfaction and fury, they become fascinated by Islamic fundamentalism and decide to become martyrs for Al Qaeda. No one is born a martyr. The film can be regarded as a study of the motivations of terrorists: how do they reach the point where they want to give up their lives in an attack?
A film that sows the seed of understanding for Islamic terrorists is automatically controversial. But it’s a clever achievement by director Nabil Ayouch (Ali Zaoua: Prince of the Streets) that he manages to persuade the viewer not only to understand the protagonists, but also to empathise with them. The film does not condemn them, so we can’t simply judge them.