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on zulm (oppression) with students

April 13, 2011 2 comments

Almost two weeks ago, during the Turkish class at the mosque, I asked my students to write about “zulm/dhulm” (oppression/injustice) for fifteen minutes. Not surprisingly, many of them did not know the meaning of zulm. I made a little explanation “giving any harm to anyone or anything around you”. Many of them tried to cheat, looking at the papers of each other. Almost none of them wrote down sentences, all made a list of bad things or sins they know. From lying to drinking alcohol, from eating pork to raping, killing and stealing etc. I announced, there will be little prize for the most original one.

Here is the winning paper:

“Zulüm= bir sey çalmak. çünkü senin olmadigi sey gizli gizli aliyorsun. ondan sonra saklaya saklaya gidiyorsun. sonra da kendini kandiriyorsun, kendinin diyorsun.
bir insana suçu olmadan öldürürsen yada iskence edersen zulüm olur. bir hayvana tirmikla yada baska bir sey’le vursa ve hayvan bir sey yapmadi ya da suçu yoksa zulümdür.”

[translation: “Zulm=stealing something. because you take it secretly. and go away as you hide it. you lie to yourself and say it’s yours.
if you kill someone who is innocent or torture, then it is zulm. when one hits an animal with a rake or something else, if animal did not do anything or innocent, it is zulm”]

I particularly liked the part she included animals to her understanding of zulm. There is a drawing of a rake next to the text, because she was not sure about the Turkish word for the rake. I think she meant rake. It is “hark” in Dutch, she told me. And the English does not look problematic, but it is indeed written with a poor and not proper Turkish.

I hope Büsra (11) did not mind that I shared her writing here.

In the following week, I decided to talk about zulm in the class. Fist I talked about three types of zulm (oppression). [Zulm against Allah, zulm against other people, and zulm against one’s own self.] I also added zulm agains the environment, animals etc. When I told the story of a man, who had been a practicing muslim in this world, but was beaten in his life in the grave, they were all affected by it. The reason why he was beaten was that during his life, he witnessed a case of oppression (a weak man was being beaten by other men), and he did not help, although he was strong enough.

Again I wrote a bit recklessly. I did not intend to connect everything and make consistent story out of it. I just wanted to record my day.

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No Way Through

April 11, 2011 2 comments

(2009) Alexandra Bouillon & Sheila Menon

No Way Through brings the shocking reality of Palestinian life in the West Bank uncomfortably close to home.
Imagine if London was controlled by the military and you had to go through specific checkpoints every time you go out..