When a gunman entered the school and shot dead 26 people in Newtown, Connecticut, the breaking news was a heart-breaking news. We were all saddened by the story, parents of six year old children hugged them tighter, and people asked one question over and over again, “Why?” Why would anyone want to hurt six year old children? Innocent children who didn’t understand evil until the day they experienced it firsthand that day? To find six-year-olds with multiple shot wounds was so devastating, that the Medical Examiner commented, “I’ve been at this for a third of a century … but this probably is the worst I have seen or the worst that I know of any of my colleagues having seen,” he said.
But in Syria every news is heart-breaking news. Yesterday, dozens of people have been killed and many more wounded in a Syrian government air strike that hit a bakery where a crowd was queuing for bread. Many of the victims were women and children. Just because there aren’t reporters lurking all over Syria, taking interviews about the children’s favorite color, hobbies, or cartoon characters doesn’t make them any less important. Their mothers suffered the back aches associated with carrying them around for nine months. Some of them watched their children say the first words, and curl their tiny fingers around an adult hand, and smile for no particular reason. And some of them watched their children die from gun wounds and disappear under the rubble of collapsed buildings, forever gone.
And it’s not just Syria.
19 November 2012: one of the top stories from Gaza was , “Four children killed in single Israeli air strike.”
17 December 2012: 10 Afghan children killed in bomb explosion in eastern province.
And that’s just the stuff that happened in the last one and a half month.
But the thing is , in in Syria, Palestine, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, th0se children are grouped into numbers to reduce airwaves and sound bytes, and any resulting shockwaves that could reverberate across the world. We don’t get to hear their names, and their favorite holiday events, whether they liked to color with crayons or preferred paint. Some of them lose their parents and siblings in the same attacks, and so their names would just remain on the birth and death certificates, if those even existed.
So Syrian children are children too. They are not collateral damage. Palestinian children are children too. They are not future terrorists. In other words, Muslim children are children too. They are not a threat to anybody, especially when they’re carrying their pacifiers. So let’s not forget them.
I never imagined that I would be writing about violence in schools again within less than two months, but this time the story takes us closer to home. This is the story of a girl called Lujain, who went to school one morning, and was later attacked by a gang of four boys in the school playground. Lujain suffered from a brain haemorrhage and was in a medically induced coma before she recovered and was sent home yesterday. (Read news here)
This story brings about many questions. How can this even happen in our schools? Where were the supervisors? Why wasn’t she sent to a hospital immediately from the school? Instead, she was sent home first. Why were the boys so violent? Did nobody teach them not to hit anybody in the school playground, especially not a girl? Were they playing out movies they watched or video games they played? What happens to the boys now? Would their record be tainted by this crime for good?
Seriously it’s really crazy, just thinking about what the world has come to nowadays. I wish for speedy recovery of Lujain, because even though she’s just a victim in this story, she did open society’s eyes to a myriad of problems; on our streets, in our schools and in our homes…
So the other day I sat watching a documentary on Columbine High School shooting that happened in 1999. The documentary had reconstruction of the actual event, and the acting was so realistic and horrifying (It was definitely not a good idea to watch it at midnight). The teens were heavily armed, and they targeted their victims with such accuracy that made people question; how did they learn to shoot with such accuracy?
One guess could be; video games.
The thing is, pictures of violence nowadays has become so common as we are bombarded daily with videos and images on the news – let alone movies and other sources of ‘entertainment.’ So I sat thinking that maybe those disturbed kids who decided to shoot up the school where living in a sorta of messed up reality where they thought that life was nothing but a big screen TV movie and they can go and shoot up people to become celebrities.
I was also thinking that maybe those kids were innocent children one day who played with building blocks once upon a time. They must have had adorable smiles like any kid at the age of three, and might have had the non-contained energy of toddlers whose definition of fun is playing in the mud, so when did they turn into these monsters who instead played in blood.
The other day my brothers and I entered these discussions on whether to allow children to play GTA (Grand Theft Auto) – because it will subconsciously teach them to steal cars….what do you think?
Allahumma adem 3aleina ne3mat al-amn and i7fath shabab wa banat al muslimeen.