‘THE FOX HUNT’ AUTHOR SPEAKS ON POWER OF INTERFATIH ASSOCIATIONS
By LORETTA FULTON
Mohammed Al Samawi, a native of Yemen, didn’t see his dream come true when he arrived in America, but his consolation prize isn’t bad.
“My dream was to work at Starbucks,” Al Samawi said during a presentation Monday night, Oct. 14, at McMurry University.
Instead, he will have to settle for getting his book, based on his harrowing escape from Yemen, published. And, he recently moved to Los Angeles to assist with the casting process for a movie.
Al Samawi’s book, “The Fox Hunt: A Refugee’s Memoir of Coming to America,” published by William Morrow, tells the story of Al Samawi’s escape in 2015. He was aided by a network of social media friends all over the world, who assisted by locating people to help him.
Mohommed Al Samawi signs copies of his book, “The Fox Hunt,” after a talk Oct. 14 at McMurry University. Photo by Loretta Fulton
Marc Platt, who produced the movie “La La Land,” happened to hear Al Samawi talk about his experiences during a presentation in Washington, D.C. Platt saw the potential for a movie and signed up Josh Singer, who won an Academy Award for best original screenplay for “Spotlight,” to write the screenplay for “The Fox Hunt.”
Al Samawi grew up in Sanaa, the capital of Yemen. Both parents are doctors and the family are Muslims. Now 33, Al Samawi became involved in his mid-20s with interfaith groups promoting dialogue among Muslims, Christians, and Jews. Al Samawi had been given a Bible by a Christian friend, and he in turn gave the friend a copy of the Quran.
Al Samawi had grown up being taught that Christians and Jews were the enemy, but reading the Bible made him begin to doubt that. His family and friends weren’t receptive to his new way of thinking and his association with people outside his Muslim faith.
“Any change in life is hard,” he said, explaining the negative reception.
But he did find like-minded people of all those faiths on Facebook.
As he got more involved with interfaith work, he began to receive death threats from al-Qaeda. Fearing for his own life and his family’s, Al Samawi was duped into believing he would be safe in Aden, in the southern part of Yemen. He didn’t realized Aden was at the heart of a north-south civil was and he was in more danger because he was from the northern part of Yemen.
In Aden, he got trapped in the bathroom of his apartment, hiding from al-Qaeda, and seeking help over the internet from interfaith friends all over the world.
He eventually was aided in escaping Yemen and arrived in San Francisco. “The Fox Hunt” tells the story of that escape, masterminded by four people he barely knew. Over a terrifying 13 days, those four young people, with no experience in diplomacy or military tactics, used six different social media platforms across 10 time zones to save him.
“The Fox Hunt” is touted as a thriller and a story of compassion, friendship, faith, and redemption. As a result of his experience, Al Samawi is more convinced than ever of the power of interfaith dialogue. He started Abrahamic House, which will open its first location in California in March 2020. Abrahamic House is a multifaith incubator to foster an environment of social change, respect, and justice.