Author: Frank Romano
Publisher: World Audience Inc
ISBN: 978-1-934209-43-1

Click Here To Purchase Storm Over Morocco : Finding God in the Midst of Fanatics

Today, Norm Goldman Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com is pleased to have as our guest, Frank Romano author of Storm Over Morocco.

Frank earned a PhD at University of Paris I, Panthéon Sorbonne, and a JD at Golden Gate University, Faculty of Law, San Francisco. He is a Maître de conférences (assistant tenured professor) at the University of Paris X in the Anglo-American Literature and Civilization Department and a member of the California and Marseille Bars. At present, he teaches law, literature, history and philosophy at the University of Paris and practices law in France and the United States.  

He has also authored Globalization of Antitrust Policies (Mondialisation des politiques de concurrence), published by L’Harmattan in French, as well as a book of poems titled Crossing Over (World Audience Inc.) He has penned many articles in Europe and the United States and is often invited to speak at conferences on the topics of interfaith tolerance, religious universalism and fundamentalism. He actively organizes and participates in interfaith events involving Jews, Moslems and Christians in Israel and Palestine.

Good day Frank and thanks for participating in our interview.

Norm:

I noticed you are a member of both the California and Marseilles Bar Associations. As I am personally a retired Notaire (Civil Law Notary) from Québec and a holder of a Civil Law degree, I was wondering if you also hold a Civil Law Degree or is this not a requirement to become a member of the Marseilles Bar?  As a follow up, what kind of law are you presently practicing?

 Frank:

It’s really a pleasure. Thank you. I have two graduate law degrees (requiring the study of civil and common law principles) from French law schools: 

 - A Masters (DESS), International Business Law, the University of Paris X, Nanterre, 1994 and

- a PhD, International Public Law, University of Paris I, Sorbonne, 1999

I originally studied intensive civil law courses before obtaining the French CAPA (Paris Bar exam) in 2004. That was a requirement before being allowed to practice law in France. Then I began practicing as an associate attorney mainly international law, private and public as well as general civil litigation in Paris before accepting an associate lawyer position in charge of the labour law department of Cabinet Gilbert Collard in Marseille, a well-know French lawyer specializing in criminal law. As his associate, I even successfully argued on behalf of the victim of a crime (partie civile) in an attentive murder case on appeal in France. Apart from labour and criminal law, I practiced family law and international law. I left that firm to open my law firm in Marseille and practiced in those same areas. As I was now practicing law in Marseille, I had to transfer my membership to the Marseille Bar. I recently closed my law firm due to the constant travelling to the Middle East and the US.

In addition, since 1991, I have maintained my membership to the California Bar Association. I practiced law in California before arriving in France in 1993 to study in a Fellowship program with the University of Paris X, Nanterre.

 Norm:

Why did you feel compelled to write Storm Over Morocco?

Frank:

First, when I was riding on the train returning to Paris after fleeing Morocco, I started writing on toilet paper about my experiences there, especially the dialogue so I wouldn’t forget them and what I had learned. Writing about my experiences also turned out to be therapeutic and helped me overcome the acute paranoia and fear I experienced after escaping from the extremist sect. In back of my mind were echoes of the warnings by the Imam that if I were ever to abandon Islam, that was the most serious of crimes………..

In hindsight, it is fortunate I did not seek publication of my memoir 5 years after leaving Morocco because more information was coming to me, event 20 years later, that had sat hibernating in my repressed memory and gradually surfaced when my mind became clearer and my fear and paranoia were tempered…

Norm:

After reading your story, I was wondering if you ever thought that you were going through some kind of a mental breakdown when you decided to get involved with Islamic zealots?

Frank:

Perhaps I was unclear in Storm Over Morocco that I never “decided to get involved with Islamic zealots” as the decision was made for me when I was imprisoned by them.

However, I naively walked into the Mosque thinking its members were sincerely interested in teaching me the ways of Mohammed and Islam because I was searching for truth (myself, my spiritual truth, meaning for living) or “bust.” It all started when I was going through an identity/spiritual crisis while studying philosophy at the Sorbonne in Paris before my visit to Morocco. During that period I had a vision during prayer/meditation that I needed to take off to the Holy Land; on my way I thought I would find answers to my questions and later, after arriving in the Holy Land, I could participate in the interfaith peace movement there.

I think the push to take off was exacerbated by my disillusionment with fast city life, my relationship with Peggy (how love to her seemed more a game than a profound intimate experience) and my awakening to the reality that I had lived a sheltered, almost meaningless life during which I was spoon-fed all my values and perhaps even my “raison d’être”.

Norm:

How did you support yourself as a student in France and in Morocco?

Frank:

I was working in a health food store as a cashier and had saved a small amount of money in Paris. Before I left for Morocco, I sold whatever possessions I had for little money. In Morocco, I sold my recorder (my last sellable possession) and was without income so sometimes I slept in the streets and ate bread all day long. Who says man can’t live on bread alone!!

Norm:

Are you still in contact with that wonderful and warm Moroccan family that welcomed you into their home without expecting anything in return? And as a follow up, why didn’t you heed their advice as to not to become involved with the Islamic fanatics?

Frank:

I was bent on finding answers to my questions and I was blind to any dangers that may surface to stifle that quest. Since I needed to learn about Islam and some Arabic before arriving in the Holy Land, I thought by surrounding myself for a while by practicing Muslims in a serious spiritual community would be the best way to do that.

Hence, I was not open to any suggestions to take a step back from that plan, even if it meant taking risks by entering a place inhabited by unknown people from a strange new world.

Members of the extremist sect were influential and I believe had infiltrated many places, even perhaps governmental offices in Morocco even though they were not in control of the government. In that respect they were a little like members of the Hezbollah party and militia in Lebanon  As such, I was concerned that if I wrote to members of that kindly Moroccan family, members of the extremist sect would possibly 1) intercept and/or trace my letters to me in Paris and 2) persecute the members of the family that hid me.

Norm:

What was the most difficult part of writing your book?   Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

Frank:

After writing and rewriting my book for about 30 years, I thought that it was near perfect and hence would not require much editing. Was I wrong! My editor helped me make it more intelligible, including the metaphors and word images, etc. In fact, the editing of the final manuscript took a lot longer than expected. It was difficult learning about my errors or vague metaphors that I had already elaborated for years.

As I said before, I learned a lot about myself while writing the book as well as worked out many of my psychological issues. In addition, the editing process helped me greatly to become a much better writer as I was able to view the manuscript through the eyes of others.

Norm:

Do you feel that writers, regardless of genre owe something to readers, if not, why not, if so, why and what would that be?

Frank:

I think writers owe readers the duty of bringing them into the scenes as if they were experiencing them first hand. To do that, writers must work arduously with the language, including enhancing understanding of emotions, etc. through carefully drafted metaphors and images. As such, writers should also write for posterity and must not succumb to the temptation of kicking out the manuscript as fast as possible--without much editing and without working the language-- that could be quickly seized by the mass entertainment world and add to the long list of pieces that cater to the mass hunger for cheap superficial thrills, without offering any literary redeeming value to the language; for instance, works that can be used in schools for examples of good literature, etc.

Finally, writers of, in particular, memoirs, have the obligation of being totally honest and disciplined, without exception refraining from adding fiction to the text of non-fiction works.

Norm:

What do you hope to accomplish with your book and why do you feel it is important for this time?

Frank:

As I said in the introduction, I hope to share my spiritual, my quest for a life of passionate purpose, spiritual meaning and palpable solutions in a world largely unsupportive of individual truth and expression. The moral of the story could be:

There are many ways to conduct a spiritual search. I do not pretend to have the only roadmap. Everyone walks their own unique path in learning to consciously embody universal love. I think, however, I could inspire people to follow their own path and take a few risks without succumbing to the pressures of their environment to dissuade them from pursuing it.

In addition, I’m trying to inspire people to learn about different religions, as they are complementary and since I don’t think any one religion has all the pieces of the puzzle. In fact, my profound knowledge of different religions helped me to resist the intensive brainwashing subjected to by members of the Muslim sect.

Norm:

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
 

Frank:

I’ve been blessed to have been contacted by many readers and potential readers of Storm Over Morocco. Some of their comments are found in my web site and my blog, www.frankromano363.com and www.frankromano363.blogspot.com, respectively. In fact, many readers of the book and people who attended the myriad author events in different countries were almost as interested in what I’m doing now, some 30 years after the harrowing experience in Morocco, and whether I’ve carried out my goal of working in the interfaith peace movement.

That has inspired my addition of an “Epilogue” in the 2nd and 3rd Editions of Storm Over Morocco, which discusses a recent intense meeting with Militant Palestinians in a West Bank refugee camp that I set up to seek their help in planning an interfaith peace march (with Muslims, Jews, Christians and members of other faiths) which subsequently took place in Ramallah, the capital of the West Bank. Many people have expressed interest about my present interfaith activities in Israel and Palestine.

Those comments and suggestions have also inspired my engaging in the project discussed below.

Norm:

What are you upcoming projects?

Frank:

I’ve started writing a second book on my experiences in organizing and participating in interfaith events in Israel and the West Bank over the past four years. Also, I have been organizing interfaith marches with Palestinians, Israelis and others in the West Bank that take place every 3 or 4 months. The focus is to recognize the similar aspects of all world religions and to overcoming misunderstanding and ignorance which exacerbate hate and fear and lead to violence in the area and to temper the indoctrination that local politicians and religious leaders engage in designed to polarize the people for private agendas instead of seeking ways for peace and understanding following the supreme unconditional love stream, the cosmic love force.

I plan, once enough people are mobilized, to organize more worthy peace projects, such as, organizing more dialogues, love fests and centralizing peace group activities, such as creating educational centers and enhancing those already existing, in order to expedite the peace process in the Holy Land and to extend those efforts to the world..

Norm:

Where can our readers find out more about you and Storm Over Morocco?


Frank:

All are welcome to access my web site for more information about the book, my background and interviews at: www.frankromano363.com and to find out more information about my activities in the Middle East, notably in Israel and the West Bank in my blog at: www.frankromano363.blogspot.com.

Norm:

Is there anything else you wish to add that we have not covered?

Frank:

Thanks again Norm for letting me share with you a little about my passion. I’d also like to extend a warm welcome to all those who wish to connect with me and invite them to send me a message at: frankfro@aol.com.

I wish you all happiness and encouragement in your search for truth, for love.

 
Merci Maître Romano et bonne chance et courage avec Storm Over Morocco.

Click Here To Read Norm's Review of Storm Over Morocco


Click Here To Purchase Storm Over Morocco : Finding God in the Midst of Fanatics

**** Frank will be at the following book signings over the next several weeks 
  
-December 16, 2009, 1–8 pm, Wednesday, WALDENBOOKS, 400 Bald Hill Rd., 
Ste. 104
Warwick, RI

-December 17, 2009, 5–9 pm, Thursday, BORDERS EXPRESS,2655 Richmond 
Avenue, Staten Island, NY

-December 18, 2009, 2–8 pm, Friday, BORDERS EXPRESS, Silver City 
Galleria, 2 Galleria Mall Dr., Taunton, MA

-December 19, 2009, 1–6 pm, Saturday, BORDERS EXPRESS, 600 Paramus 
Park, Paramus, NJ

-December 20, 2009, 1–5 pm, Sunday, BORDERS EXPRESS, Emerald Sq., 999 
S. Washington St., N. Attleborough, MA

-December 21, 2009, 1–9 pm, Monday, WALDENBOOKS, 160 Walt Whitman Rd., 
Huntington Station, NY

-December 22, 2009, 1–6 pm, Tuesday, BORDERS EXPRESS, 1061 Greenacres 
Mall, Valley Stream, NY

-Jan. 16, 2010, 1–6 pm, Saturday, BORDERS, 1201 Boston Post Rd., 
Milford, CT

-January 23, 1 – 5 pm, 2010, Saturday, BORDERS, 1310 South Beach Blvd., 
La Habra, CA

-January 24, 2–6 pm, 2010, Sunday, BORDERS – Westchester, 6081 Center 
Drive, Los Angeles, CA

-January 30,1–4 pm, 2010, Saturday, BORDERS, 400 S. Baldwin Ave., 
Arcadia, CA

-January 31, 2–6 pm, 2010, Sunday, BARNES & NOBLE, Westside Pavilion 
Shopping Center, 10850 West Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, CA

-February 6, 1–6 pm, 2010, Saturday, BORDERS, 12423 Limonite Ave., Mira 
Loma, CA


CROSSING OVER (Poetry Book)
Poetry Reading at following locations:

-Dec. 19, 1–6 pm, 2009, Saturday, BORDERS EXPRESS, 600 Paramus Park, 
Paramus NJ

-Jan. 2, 7-9 pm, 2010, Saturday, CAVALLI BOOKS & CAFE, 1441 Stockton 
St., North Beach, San Francisco, CA