This has been a challenging weekend. Much thought and many prayers have been extended to the families affected by the terrorist attacks. These events, however, do not only affect the families who have lost someone they have deeply loved, they reverberate around communities who fear the reprisals that can happen from such acts of terrorism.
I wrote in my blog at the beginning of the year, after the Charlie Hebdo attack, that random acts from extremists do not represent the views, nor the people of that religion, and yet sadly in times like this, instead of embracing the different religions, people view them with fear. I stated that our role as educators is to teach our pupils to accept people for who they are, celebrate our differences and always work hard at bringing people together in a respectful way.
I was, therefore, very proud to see on Monday night’s news one of our pupils speak so eloquently and bravely about a poem she wrote on what the attacks mean to her. Her poem captures the divide that extremists cause, their attempt at driving wedges between communities, hoping to destroy the trust that has built up over generations.
Her voice, dignified and strong, represents the views of countless individuals who want to be accepted for who they are, living in a safe world. Our role as educators is to ensure that this happens. I never underestimate the power of education and I was fiercely proud tonight that her education gave her the confidence to speak out. She has kindly allowed me to print her poem:
Walking through a crowded place,
Apparent on every face,
For actions taken in my name,
You think that I am a disgrace,
You refuse my hand
You ignore my embrace
What did I do to deserve this hate?
I wear a headscarf,
My dad has a beard,
You mock me and say I’m weird,
Yet still I am unwelcome here,
Practising my faith in constant fear.
Terrorists deface Islam as they ravage and ruin the common man,
This is not my faith and not Islam,
Don’t assume it is, we’re about salaam,
Please, don’t hold me accountable for the insane,
As all around, you’ll see the same.