So it has happened again folks, yet another football match that erupts in violence becuase the losers do not like the outcome. Accept this time, it is not just another gormless football match (sorry guys), that leads to mindless behavior. Even the opinion of the People’s Assembly’s emergency meeting noted the obvious – it was a planned. Even as this is written, protestors have congregated in Tahrir to attack the Ministry of the Interior, which is believed to be responsible for the deaths of 73 people, and 2,000 inured in the Port Said match between the Cairo-based Al Ahly, and the Delta team Al Masri which won the match!
The week following the commemoration of the January 25 Revolution, met with ongoing peaceful protests and sit-ins on the streets of Cairo, namely Tahrir Square, when even the self interested counter-revolutionaries did not disrupt the communal air. The sun even shone as if inviting Spring, after a typical English winter – a shock to the system in a country without central heating! The call from one of those protests, wich grew louder with momentum and participants, was the call for the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, SCAF, to hand over to civilian rule now, and step down. The SCAF claim to the anniversary of the January 25 Revolution 2012 had failed as a celebration, and instead the community spirit was infused with many questions that challenged the SCAF agenda, known and unknown.
As the week passed the Sun withdrew from the scene and the typical English weather returned, as the untelevised and under-reported revolution of the hearts and minds of the people, with the realization that the first stage of the elections for the People’s Assembly was not as fair as it seemed, and that they were willing participants!
However, SCAF felt optimistic, and speeded up the process a little with the elections for the Ashura Council, which in reality would have no real power. As the U.S. 2012 electoral process ensues and which will not change a system that has 41 million on and under the poverty line,regardless of who fronts as president, the Egyptian masses were not willing for more of the nations money to be wasted, after all, the time between the announcement of the Ashura Council elections, and actual voting was far too short to for voters to even know who to vote for, as was the case for the People’s Assembly where incidents of electoral fraud was many, and undealt with. The nations stance was loud and clear, as the results of the Ashura Council elections revealed that less than 15% of the people voted, as SCAF responded to recent protests by removing the never-ending Emergency Law, two days ago!
Confusion was made apparent through State T.V., what should SCAF do! Forget the Ashura Council — install a Council that hardly anyone voted for? The nation had realized the fine of L.E500 for not voting had no validity, as the nation approach the commemoration of Prophet Muhammed’s birth. SCAF had not learnt from Mubarak’s exploitation of football fans when violence broke out between Egypt and Algeria in a match that was played in Sudan, and had left the Egyptian team to be banned from hometown matches for two World Cup qualifiers in 2010.
Thirty years of being silenced, has led to more frequent forms of ‘expression’, as everyone wants to have their say since the January 25 Revolution 2011, a necessary process as one begins to find one’s feet in the country that one was deprived of fully participating in for so long. However, sometimes it gets a bit rough, as was the case in the Egyptian Premier Leagues match.
January 28, 2012, the Ultras, hardcore football fans had stormed a football match not long after kick-off against Al Masri. The referee stopped the game, as the supporters rushed the stands, injuring police, but the Ultras left the stadium after 10 minutes. This was nothing new, in fact supportes of the top Cairo-based team Al-Zamalek, did the same in November 2011, in a match played by Al-Shorta.
It is considered normal for losers of a team to be upset, along with their supporters, but yesterday, 01st February 2012, state T.V. reported in the Delta city of Port Sa’id that Al-Masri supporters surrounded and attacked Al-Ahly which lost 3-1 with stones and bottles. We are talking about a people who are not violent by nature. The nations top player, Mohammed Abu Treika, like the other players was distressed by what took place, that he phoned Al-Ahly’s satellite T.V. channel live from the protection of the changing rooms to say that a fan had died in front of him. That sacredness of life was presented again to a state T.V. that is less concerned with the young lives that were lost, and more concerned with rushing Egypt back into the position of being a global player in the midst of a crumbling capitalist system. However, the nation is in shock as Head of SCAF, Mohammed Tantawi arranged for helicopters to lift out of Port Sa’id the Al-Ahly players, and fans. As for the 13, and 14 amongst the dead…
A planned match between Al-Zamalek and Ismailiya in Cairo football stadium was called off, and according to state T.V. upset fans got aggressive, showing scenes of a burning stadium.
As protestors and the Ultras join in protest in thousands in Tahrir Square, the Ultras head a march to the Ministry of Interior, which was baracaded a few weeks ago due to rising tensions between security forces and a sit-in erupted in violence, and attempted break-ins. The returned call for the removal of all members of the Interior of Ministry has been raised, as this time the Ministry is considered responsible for the violence, as it is believed the riot police stood by and let it happen despite reports that some riot police did try, but were overwhelmed by Ultras. However that does not tally with Abu Treika’s live, but distressed account that there was no security, and no ambulances – nothing!
As Egypt begins a three-day mourning period, the head of Egypt’s Football League, was dismissed, the governor of Port Sa’id, Major-General Muhammed Abdullah was dismissed by interim Primer Minister Kamal Al Ganzouri against the wishes of SCAF, and dismissed the Head of Security, and the Head of police investigations, and intends to dismiss the entire Football League, and reported as such to the People’s Assembly.
The People’s Assembly decided from their emergency meeting that the violence was planned, SCAF should hand over to civilian rule,
As the call for a million man march to take place tomorrow,03rd February, the nations perception of SCAF during the elections for the People’s Assembly can be likened to Mubarak’s, split between a growing mistrust, and counter-revolutionairies who feel that nobody else can rule. Many MPs along with much of the nation place the balme squarely at the foot of SCAF. As FIFA demands an investigation into the Port Said incident, and SCAF or the government (not sure which) asks for all media footage, and photos of the incident be handed in for an internal investigation, SCAF have only added to the call to step down now, and that the reality that mounting crimes including an armed bank robbery, along with all the investigations have resulted in zero with 9,000 criminals still on the loose. There is also recriminations against the Muslim Brotherhood, according to a nations daily Al Ahram are increasingly showing enmity against the revolution. That call takes the form of statement signed by the:
April 6 Youth Movement (Democratic Front)
People’s Committees for the Defence of the Revolution
Revolution Youth Coalition
Union of Revolution Youth
Coalition of Revolutionary Forces
Coptic activism group the Union of Maspero Youth
Egyptians for Azhar Reform Movement
Maspero State Television Revolutionaries
Youth Movement for justice and Freedom
National Front for Justice and Democracy (not the Freedom and Justice Party – the Muslim Brotherhood)
Free Front for Peaceful Change
Egyptian Current Party
Popular Alliance Party
Al Ahly have banned all sports, and the city of Port Sa’id for 5 years, as the quarter-finals of the African Nations Cup are played in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon this weekend will observe a minutes silence!
Over the years, accumulative evidence have demonstrated a direct relationship between violence in young people and violent emanations from the media. This is no surprised for the astute educationalist, parents included who can see in front of their eyes how the imagination of the child is taken over by these games, videos, cartoons, films and T.V. in general.
As one sits, and observe a group of children aged 3- 5 years old play one can see a big difference between the child whose imaginative world is their own, and the child whose imaginative world has been claimed hook, line, and sinker by the very media they watch. The former need little of the toys from the toy industry to delve into a world of exploration, expression, and self development to work out issues, solve problems, and still keep on playing without running out of juice. However a child whose world is not his own re-enacts the world has projected by adults which is much more competitive, selfish, and aggressive – sooner rather later they run out of fodder to keep that world going, and are only left with an imitative self that cannot be fulfilled. Fewer ideas are exchanged; there is always who everyone must follow, and the play verges on risk taking in order to keep it going.
So, it is not surprising, that the latest study proves a direct result between violent video games and violent youth, and that relationship results in a direct change in the structure of the brain. Far too often we underestimate how much our environment and what we make of it changes our perception of reality to the extent that increasingly certain types of behaviour are deemed normal!
Researchers at the Indiana University School of Medicine, U.S., have found without a shadow of a doubt that there is indeed a direct causation.
Twenty-eight balanced adult males aged 18 – 29 with minimal previous exposure to violent video games. Divided into two groups, the first group were assigned the awesome task of playing a shooting game for 10 hours at home, for a period of a week, and to not play the following week. The other group were assigned the difficult task of not playing any video games for those two weeks.
Functional magnetic resonance imaging was used to analyze the disposition at the beginning of the study. During the two weeks the group tested for effect of violent video games had to carry out an emotional interference task, which was done by pressing buttons according to the colour of visually presented words. Those words were a combination of violent and non-violent words. Then they had to complete a cognitive inhibition counting task which shows ability to control one’s cognitive flexibility and attention.
After only one week of exposure, it was found that the group exposed to violent video games had less activation in the anterior cingulate cortex of the brain. The anterior cingulate cortex is responsible for the ability to control emotions, and aggressive behaviour. In the week following when they had to refrain from video games, the anterior cingulate cortex began to return to normal. But what if a young person has been raised on violent games, news, T.V., and cinema over a long period of time? What would it take to return, if possible, the functioning of their brain back to normal?
The Emotional Brain
The functions central to intelligent behaviour is believed to emanate from the anterior cingulate cortex. Those functions are summarized as:
The ability to control one’s emotions
The ability to focus and solve a problem
Social relations and bonding
The ability to recognize an error
The ability to recognize novelty
The ability to adapt to changing conditions
The anterior cingulated cortex becomes active when a person feels emotions, solves a problem, or is able to process elements of an action if it is the right decision.
Part of the limbic system which is 18% larger in females than it is in males, the anterior cingulated cortex contains a type of neuron that to date has only been found in humans, apes, and whales, and connects to many parts of the brain. This is where the emotions play an important role in the cognition and functioning of a person. They cannot be distinguished at birth, and appear to start forming at four months old. This when a baby is able hold their head with some steadiness, are able to smile spontaneously, to track visually, and to reach for that which they track. Depression in the family has the effect of reducing the size of the anterior cingulate cortex, as well as its activity which underlines the impact an emotional environment has on a growing child. One can observe, children who come from an emotionally suppressed environment learn quite early to suppress their emotions by learning to perform to that level of expectation. They do as they are told, and become initially confused when exposed to an environment that allows them to express their emotions. They become mistrustful until such a time they can trust, and see that source has the only thing that they can really trust. They are then able to experience pleasure freely, and to enjoy the play of their imaginative world which helps them to develop a sense of self control – the same self control that the anterior cingulate cortex is responsible for! When faced with a person who allows for that expression and a person who does not, their point of reference becomes the emotionally suppressing person because they fear being reprimanded by the emotionally suppressing person much more – do we not all seek approval!
New Age Therapies that espouse being free from one’s emotions, can lead to more harm than good. The person is detached from their experience by artificial means, which also affects their memory, cognition and social relations. The emotions are the seat of creativity, and spiritual development, and for a child it is the means by which they are able to do God’s bidding, take one step at a time through their developmental stages. A stage missed only leaves them less equipped for the next stage with ease instead of the accumulative aggression that can be internalized, externalized and/or both as a result of their imagination being hijacked, and/or the modern schooling system which is less to do with education, and more to do with the kind of psychological violence that denies the wholesome functioning of their brain!
Sometimes, when one knows something to be true, and it pains one that that is a truth, to witness repetition of it in daily life might compel one to deny that it has become a sad reality. For all intents and purposes the U.S. projected image falls short in the context of bullying and an alarming product of that shortfall is xenophobia in the lives of ordinary American citizens.
And so it was for a 16-year old Croatian girl as she laid in her prom dress in her coffin. Sladjana Vidovic’s could not take any more and committed suicide by jumping out her bedroom window. A native of Bosnia, her reality in an American school was full of taunts because of her not so perfect American/English accent at a school that ironically goes by the name of Mentor High School. When one is insulted without justified cause on a regular basis, in an environment that is under the mistaken belief that this is the only way to live (Ohio was voted one of the 100 Best Places to Live” by CNN and Money magazine in 2010), the insults become personal because one begins to see one’s self through their eyes, and eventually in their image. The irreducible right to human dignity is stolen, and the scars remain long into adulthood. This is the case for 1st/2nd generation children of migrants, as the parents are preoccupied with settling into their new environment, making a home, and making a living that can better the chances for their children. This leaves the child in a world of their own, a world that they cannot reason with, because they do not have the previous experience, and many times the vocabulary that goes with that experience to objectify the process by talking it out whether the medium be a diary or somebody else.
When one’s peers takes one’s name, which is a name from one’s home country, and then turns it into something disgusting, one is vilifying not just a name, but one’s identity. Sladjana’s name was changed to “Slutty Jana” or “Slut-Jana-Vagina,” which is no indication of her nature, but is an indication of the manner in which her peers have been raised. But how is one to know that, when one’s family migrated to a country in the hope of a better life? Sladjana had food thrown at her, in a time when 49,000 Americans are in a very desperate need for food – what does this say about the manner in which her peers have been raised? Sladhana was pushed down the stairs by a boy, hit in the face with a bottle by a girl, death threats in the middle of the night – future American voters. Sladjana tried, but for how long can one defend one’s self against such ignorance. She could not take it anymore, and withdrew from the school one week before she died to attend online schooling. It was probably then that she felt the fullness of the humiliating experience of Mentor School!
In the Middle East, one can say to their faces that they have not been trained (mafish tarbia) properly, and that would be enough to stop a person dead in the tracks of their bad behavior, but this requires a community that has communal mores rooted in some basic ethics. Mentor School promised to intervene to her parents, but school values have to be pervasive enough to over ride the lack of values that the children enter school with. It also requires a school to be vigilant in the implementation of such values. Yet, school values are remiss when the family asked for records of bullying to only tell the family that the records were destroyed in the process of switching computers – the school really aught to change its name!
The same peers who walked up to Sladjana as she lay in her coffin and laughed – yes laughed! It was maybe then that the reality for Sladjana who brought home to her family. Not the fun loving girl who loved to dance with her family or the Sladjana who always had an infectious smile, but the Sladjana who faced an ugly reality in the pleasant beach town community they had migrated to from Bosnia. The death of their daughter is a rude awakening for her parents, an awakening that has led them to take legal action against the school, but will the school wake up?
The reason given by some of the students who were interviewed was that if one is not in the school team, or a cheer-leader then one is considered to “not be cool,” and not being cool opens the risk of being bullied. Looking at the growing problem of school bullying, a longitudinal study was carried out by Dr. Terri Moffit, of the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London, U.K. The study looked at 2,232 children from when they were 5 years old to seven years old. Looking at the school attended, the neighborhood and the family that large schools with a large population was a direct link, but found a decrease in bullying when the school population was larger – the researchers suggested that this may be due to under reporting. It would make sense if one compares those who move from living in the countryside to the city, and the depersonalizing experience of the large, overcrowded city.
Another causal factor was domestic violence in the home, and abused children ran the increased risk of becoming victims of bullying. Internalized behavior problems increased the risk of becoming a victim of of bullying, and a decreased the risk of being a bully. Children who externalize the problem are more likely to become bullies.
The list is far too long to demonstrate the means by which politicians in general today “act” on behalf of their people, against their interests, and the interests of the people of another country. If a prime example has to be plucked from the air, then the most apparent case is the case of Palestine because Palestinians voted in a manner that was not in favor of, Israel, and Israeli allies, and China for having the economic prowess that seems unavailable to the G20.
Our politicians provide a carte blanche example for the rest of the population, preferring their interest over the interest of the people. The first method is to make the people believe that they are actually living in a democracy, and by democracy I am referring to Western countries who expect others to follow their “example”. By referring to one’s country as a democratic state, one creates victims. By telling a country that carries out a misdemeanor on one of its citizens that they have no human rights – no democracy, one is hiding/ignoring the misdemeanors and human rights abuse that is taking place in one’s country, especially those that are a product of one’s policy.
When a person stands up for themselves, they are given all kinds of derogatory labels including a dissident, a traitor or a terrorist or simply mentally ill as a result of cumulative psychiatric injury. Like child bullies, some adults/politicians are skilled at manipulating the perceptions of others, i.e. those excluded from the arena of direct bullying. Citizens are told not be violent, but out of the public view, the bully/the government are violent if not physically, psychologically/economically/culturally etc; and because the real target of the bully/the government has been vilified publicly, the public adds to the process believing the myths of the bully/the government; and because the socially accepted bully/the government said it is true, it must be true!
Even if discovered, because of the social acceptability, the the socially accepted bully/the government does not have to accept responsibility, and the victims are considered to be weak and oppressed by their own values accept that those values to the socially acceptable is the flaw and the whipping stick. The bully is empowered by the social acceptance, and claims the right to violate the rights of the target/victim for there is only one boundary, the boundary of the bully/the government. In turn what happens to the target/victim is that they internalize the process of humiliation and blame themselves, because unless they have a strong identity, there is no socio-cultural support to explain otherwise.
Like child bullies, some governments are made up of politicians who lack true self esteem and in so doing ape high self esteem in the form of arrogance, being self assured, the feeling that they can do anything they like and get away with it and therefore untouchable, and rule by fear.
To break this cycle we have work from both the top and the bottom of society, i.e. from the child bully to the government, and this means that citizens can no longer afford to shift the blame. A major step towards that endeavor is to be informed by means other than that provided by the schools and the pertinent governments.
Bowes L, Arseneault L, Maughan B, Taylor A, Caspi A, & Moffitt TE (2009). School, Neighborhood, and Family Factors Are Associated With Children’s Bullying Involvement: A Nationally Representative Longitudinal Study J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry.
Tension, the twisted carcasses of gutted vehicles, buses with smashed windows, smouldering dumpsters, streets riddled with rubber-coated steel bullets and empty cartridge cases, teargas, and air thickened with black soot from burning tyres marked the beginning of the fifth day Monday of continuous rioting in East Jerusalem. A Palestinian man was killed by an Israeli settlement security guard in disputed circumstances, a Palestinian toddler asphyxiated on teargas, and dozens of Palestinians were injured by beatings, rubber-coated metal bullets and teargas inhalation.
The East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Silwan has been tense for months with clashes breaking out between protesting Palestinian youths and Israeli security forces on a regular basis. Jerusalem municipality has demolished many Palestinian homes.
The planned demolition of dozens more homes, the eviction of many Palestinian residents, and the pending eviction of hundreds more to make way for illegal Jewish settlements and a Jewish theme park has led to a time-bomb waiting to explode. The spark that ignited the flame took place last Wednesday morning at approximately 5am when father of five 31-year-old Samer Sarhan was shot dead on his way to work following a confrontation with Israeli security guards outside the City of David Israeli settlement….
It is not unknown that to live in a society that is deeply insecure and has a fragile identity unreal fears manifest to make life become even more impossible for that which is feared, and for those who fear. The reality today in this 21st century, is xenophobia is becoming increasingly common both on western and non-western shores, however the term has only been popularly applied in the context of South Africa by the media. Xenophobia is described by dictionary-psychology.com as:
“A fear or contempt of that which is foreign or unknown, especially of strangers or foreign people. It comes from the Greek words ξένος (xenos), meaning “foreigner,” “stranger,” and φόβος (phobos), meaning “fear.” The term is typically used to describe a fear or dislike of foreigners or of people significantly different from oneself”.
The reaction to Muslims since 9/11 and anything pertaining to Islam – more commonly referred to as Islamophobia – is a clear demonstration of xenophobia. In fact, psychologist, Jeffrey Winters referred to it as such in Psychology Today, one year after the 9/11 attack. Unfortunately, Winters also stated:
“In just hours, we can be conditioned to fear or discriminate against those who differ from ourselves by characteristics as superficial as eye color. Even ideas we believe are just common sense can have deep xenophobic underpinnings.”
Can xenophobia be “turned on” just like that, or would it be more accurate to state that the “expression of xenophobic tendencies can be turned on!
Groundwork to Genocide
Prior to colonialism, there was one people, the Banyarwanda, with groups who are the Tutsi tribe (pastoralists), the Hutu tribe (horticulturalists), and the Twa, who lived in relative peace with a small population, land-sharing system, and agricultural output provided for the needs of all the people. They were a people with a common language, Kinyarwanda, and a shared philosophical and religious belief. It was only occupation and physical features that distinguished them. All documented evidence points to the growing violence as being rooted in Belgian colonial rule. And so it was that certain elements conspired reaching a feverish pitch in 1994 against a people.
After the end of World War I, Rwanda, Burundi, and Tanganyika, which had been colonies of the German Empire, fell under the Belgian rule from 1924 to 1962. Under German rule, the White Fathers and the Protestant Christian mission were the means by which the indigenous population was to be converted into useful citizens of Rwanda as a German colony.
The divide-and-rule mentality of the Belgians formulated the idea that one set of people was better than the other. In this colonial setting, the Tutsi (one of three tribes) were elevated to an “ethnically” (ethnicity here is a misnomer) superior position to dominate and rule — on behalf of their colonial masters — the Hutu and Twa, as inferior to the Tutsi. Through a system of missionary education, the Belgians created the means for indirect rule. This was based on the Tutsi feature of being tall, thin, and more European looking. The Tutsi had 60 years to don the robes of their masters, which nurtured seeds of prejudice and internalized racism among the population. The Belgians issued identity cards according to patrilineage and ethnicity, which reinforced the racial concept of superiority and inferiority.
There was a growing population growth that put the food supply and land under stress. Most Rwandans converted to Catholicism, and the church forbade birth control to the extent that church activists would raid and destroy pharmacies where condoms were sold. Those who sold contraceptives were viewed as “demons,” and pro-life activists were compensated in the form of land or cattle.
Rwanda with a massive population at the time was witnessing hunger and malnutrition because of land stress, thus food scarcity. These external influences that were reshaping the land and the minds of the people also instituted a false race classification that put a stop to the once-frequent practice of marriage between the Tutsis and the Hutus. The race classification instituted by the Belgians and upheld by the puppet administration laid the groundwork for social disorder. Llezlie L. Green, author of “Sexual Violence and Genocide Against Tutsi Women” wrote”
“Gender hate propaganda was perhaps the most virulent component of the propaganda campaign. Propagandists portrayed Tutsi women as enemies of the state, used by Tutsi men to “infiltrate Hutu ranks.” Propagandists claimed Tutsi women were more beautiful and desirable, but “inaccessible” to Hutu men whom they allegedly looked down upon and were “too good for.” This characterization led to what one Tutsi woman explained as an indescribable hate. As such, “rape served to shatter these images by humiliating, degrading, and ultimately destroying the Tutsi woman.”
Ready to be torn apart, a colonized people learned to judge itself through the eyes of the colonizer. The first ethnic clash between the Hutu and the Tutsi occurred in 1959. Thousands of Tutsis were killed, while 130,000 Tutsis fled to neighboring countries where Tutsis dominated. National elections were held under the UN supervision in 1961, and a Hutu, Grégoire Kayibanda, became the first president in a country that was to become independent in 1962. The Catholic Church supported the creation of a Hutu identity and nationalism. From then on, there were to be frequent attacks and counterattacks between the Tutsis and the Hutus.
After the Hutu president Juvénal Habyarimana’s plane was downed by a missile and all passengers aboard were killed in April 1994, with no evidence until that day as to who the actual assassins were, the Hutu militia set up road blocks. Within one hour of the death of Habyarimana, the killing of Tutsi civilians began. Within three months, over 750,000 Tutsis as well as 10,000 to 30,000 Hutus were killed, and two million Rwandans were displaced. It has been well-documented that the clergy were involved in the genocide .
The new Hutu government formed in July 1994 made, , a commitment through the Arusha Accords to building a multiparty democracy and to disassembling the system of ethnic classification. It was not until the 1994 genocide that the identity cards issued by the Belgian rule were abolished.
It has been established that the targets to be murdered were male Tutsis, young and old, although in the frenzy, Hutu and Tutsi women were killed as well. Rape and torture were used against women as a means of attacking the very colonial system that had defined them as superior and that they had used to defined themselves. Through a process of devaluing self perception, psychological manipulation, control and discrimination, women were exploited for sex (including forced marriages) or mutilated, especially if they had witnessed torture or killing of their relatives.
The psychological, social, and physical aspects of such appalling sexual violations have unalterably affected the survivors. In a society that has traditionally regarded women as dependents of their male relatives and first and foremost as wives and mothers, sexual violence has particularly devastating effects. Indeed, victims of sexual violence have demonstrated a variety of responses ranging from over-sensitivity and shame to “a form of madness.” (Green)
The raped underwent a second death through exclusion from their own society. With a 4.6 Muslim population, an interfaith commission was launched by Muslims as a tool toward reconciliation. Their work included aid programs, reconciliation among genocide survivors, and release of genocide prisoners and genocide detainees’ families.
After the genocide, 60 percent to 70 percent of the Rwandan population consists of women, and of that 50 percent are widows. The work of Avega Agahozo is primarily psychosocial and medical in support, along with advocacy and rehabilitation.
Avega Agahozo built a village for the survivors in Kigali, away from those who referred to the children born of rape by interahamwe. Forced to live each day as it comes, they know not what the following day will bring. No one knows how the plundered soul lives and perceives reality; everyone makes their own judgment, and on that judgment, that plundered soul may die again.
Just as the situation in Rwanda took time to take shape before the barbaric eruption, so too did the xenophobic wave riding high in the U.S. currently. In fact it began with the inception of the United Stated of America, with the decimation of the indigenous peoples of that land. Again, Japanese Americans were herded off to “camps” after the bombing of Pearl Harbour. And before that to this day, many African Americans are still experiencing the legacy of slavery, with the two ethnic groups (i.e. Asian and African Americans) suffering a psychological impact that manifests itself in the form of cosmetic surgery, and the desire to achieve the “white ideal.” In fact the origins of organized psychiatry in the U.S is in eugenics. Barack Obama’s appointment as president of the nation only reflects what is possible, not what is the reality for many of the non-Caucasian lay person. To use the unfortunate term “to call a spade a spade”:
“Not many of us will admit to having strong racist or xenophobic biases. Even in cases where bias becomes public debate—such as the profiling of Arab Muslims at airport-security screenings—proponents of prejudice claim that they are merely promoting common sense. That reluctance to admit to bias makes the issue tricky to study” – Jeffrey Winters.
The Case of South Africa
With all that Africa has been through, until Rwanda (Uganda cannot really be considered here), the idea of xenophobia is a foreign to that land. Even the expression of it amongst Africans of the Diaspora, regardless of birth and/or claimed nationality since slavery, the closest fear of all things foreign, has been in the form of internalized racism, which takes on many forms. As one South African writer who refers to their self as 6000:
“We, more than many other nations, should know better. We should know better because we have just emerged from more than three centuries of the horror of settler colonialism and apartheid… This madness has to stop. There is simply no justification for attacking people simply because they are not South African nationals”.
There are no official figures, but according to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, UNHCR, there are approximately 357,000 asylum seekers and/or those under refugee status in South Africa. Not everyone floods to the West to seek a more secure life. However, the legacy of apartheid means that apartheid for many is still very much present. The world of Asian South Africans and black South Africans are far apart with many black South Africans being disenfranchised.
Xenophobia in South Africa came to the media lime-light with the 2008 killing of 66 people, the displacement of 6,000 non-South African Africans, many of whom were Zimbabweans. In 2010, 55 incidents of xenophobia were reported in the Western Cape alone involving 40 arrests. However, xenophobia in South Africa was apparent after 1994, when the first democratic elections in the country took place, when armed youth gangs destroyed foreign property, and demanded that foreigners should leave.
The South African Institute for Race Relations describe the wave of violence as a product of failed policies, particularly under the Mbeki’s Administration, which pertains to:
• Failure to maintain the rule of law
• Border control
• Slow economic growth
• Foreign policy
• Service delivery
But if this is the simple truth, then we would be seeing what is happening in South Africa on a global scale particularly since the global economic crisis. However, this has been affirmed by other studies, but with greater insight into the expectations of the black South African people. An insight into this arises from their traditions as conveyed by Nelson Mandela in Mandela’s Way:
“The King may have been born to leadership, but he was also seen as the people’s servant. Chieftaincy was treated as a priviledge, not just as a right. The chiefly style of leadership was not about vaulting oneself to the front, but about listening and achieving consensus”.
Anyone from the community could attend and be listened to, and the aim was to achieve consensus. This was not a practice relegated to the distant past; it was the world that Nelson Mandela grew up in, away from apartheid! Democracy was for and with the people in the true sense of the word, with street and area committees on the rise before the 1990 negotiations towards ending apartheid. It was in the transition from 1990 -1994 that participatory democracy was weakened. This was highlighted in the report by the Human Sciences Research Council, Citizenship, Violence and Xenophobia in South Africa: Perceptions from South African Communities”.
Relegated to a worse than second class citizenship in one’s own land by foreigners, the scars of apartheid disempowered a people who were deprived of the benefits of their land., to find themselves post apartheid with the vote in theory, but in practice not much better off.
“There is little doubt that the brutal environment created by apartheid with its enormous emphasis on boundary maintenance has also impacted on people’s ability to be tolerant of difference” – Morris 1998.
Violence was the political norm of the apartheid era not only physically, but psychologically and emotionally; and it has left its mark. Xenophobia and nationalism are violent in nature as the French woman who pulled a hijab off a French Muslim woman in 2010 demonstrated. Xenophobia is also the expression of identity, or the lack thereof, and this phenomenon is spreading aided and abetted by secular governments on all continents whose only concern is their self interest.
Referring to Nelson Mandela, editor at Time Magazine, Richard Stengel, and author of Mandela’s Way discovered:
“Since boyhood he had understood that collective leadership was about two things: the greater wisdom of the group compared to the individual, and the greater investment of the group in any result achieved by consensus. It was a double win.”
Some African leaders have learnt to rule in Western terms, leaving behind the people, and it is this that undermines Africa’s wealth including its human wealth. There is no consensus in polluting those one leads with ideas that serve only political interest. A citizen has the right to be informed of facts, not fallacies, and the right to decide and contribute to a process that, which after all, is on their behalf. The callousness in which governments rule today is the reason for the increasing insecurities, inflated by nationalism, the seed of xenophobia, which is not only affecting South Africa, but the rest of the world.
How are the summer months after the school year been treating you? Have these summer months met you with relief from the tensions of the school year. That might be the feeling for both student and parents alike, and teachers might be feeling more than shaken by it all, but In the summer break leading up to the new school year, is the time to consider what kind of education you would really like for your child, and by this I don’t mean more money.
School violence is becoming a common occurrence these days; the problem is that it also might be becoming all too acceptable. It is only now that the study into U.S. school violence has been released for 2003-5 by the National Center for Education Statistics. A frightening 2,911.000 acts of theft were carried out, and 1,852,000 were violent. Of the violent acts 54% occurred within the school building and 82% of all incidents were not reported to the police. Of the violent acts:
– Guns were used in 14,100 incidents
– Knives were used in 68, 400 incidents
– A blunt object was used in 42,100 incidents
Before jumping to stereotypes:
– 714,600 of the offenders were white
– 324, 4000 of the offenders were black
– 96,300 of the offender were male
– 25,000 of the offenders were female
We can look at American society, and say unequivocally that America is a society founded in violence, and has always been violent. This is of course said here under the assumption that it goes without saying that the U.S. has a problem with school violence. It might have even come to attention a few news reports about school violence in European countries. This may not be on the same scale as the violence in American schools, but on a European scale, it is still considered a phenomenon. In the cosmic law of things, to know the essence of something one has to first know its opposite, like knowing what it is to be thirsty in order to know what it means to be without thirst, so if public reaction is an indicator, we have clearly allowed the unacceptable to become acceptable forgetting what is unacceptable.
U.S. – in the case of Virginia Tech shooting in 2007 where 32 people died, there was the normal national outcry, increased security measures, a national debate about firearms which always takes place a result of which nothing is done, and a tribute to the dead and their families.
Poland – A 14 year old girl was sexually attacked by three male classmates in front of the whole class in 2006. It was filmed on a mobile. This only came to light because she committed suicide. Even though there was a zero tolerance policy in place on school violence, the minister responsible for looking into the incident, whereby a teacher was not present in the classroom for 20 minutes by proposing a ban on the spread of pornography, improved methods for hunting drug dealers, to make it easier to dismiss unreliable teachers, a decent school dress code, a new hierarchy of reward and punishment for students, a curfew for students aftetr 10.00pm.
The fact that the children involved had reached a level of underdevelopment seems to have surpassed the national debate in both countries to the extent that they came from families, whom we know nothing of, who had raised children who could carry out such acts, is not a reflection on the families alone, but is a reflection on the societies to which they belong. An act is carried out whatever it may be because the environment has given some kind of consensus that there is some level of permission. The school is a microcosm of that environment, and so too is the individual, and the family unit.
Blame the children, Blame, the teachers, Blame the parents, blame everything else but what about the nature of schooling itself given that it is a tool of the state.
Schooling – is used to refer to the system of mass education or factory education which provides one method to a large number of students.
Violence – is the act of harm against one’s self or another. The intent to cause harm is forbidden in Islam.
The Growing Concern About Schooling
Educationalist Clive Harber has developed much concern of what he observed as a growing problem with schooling and violence. Initially his concern was not one of schooling and violence, but one of schooling and politics. Harber became convinced that schooling is responsible for the initial violence, and for “reproducing and perpetuating forms of violence” in society at large. This arose out of his observation as a teacher in Nigeria, where the inherited system of schooling was British, and corporal punishment was a standard practice. This notion was affirmed when looking at the colonial system of education and the resistance to them in Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Eritrea, South Africa, and Namibia.As an educationalist in the U.K. his reason for concern continued there.
“When we respond to violence in schools, if we respond at all, it is to the children who are violent. When a child forces another to do his or her bidding, we call it extortion; when an adult does the same thing to a child, it is called correction. When a student hits another student it is assault; when a teacher hits a student it is for the child s own good . When a student embarrasses, ridicules or scorns another student it is harassment, bullying or teasing. When a teacher does it, it is sound pedagogical practice.”
Harber reminds us of the historical context of mass education, which is evident today was to maintain social and political control over the then growing working population which sprung up as a result of industrialization. Some Americans might be experiencing this reality as certain states endeavor to curtail the practice of homeschooling.
“Hard Times” written by Charles Dickens serves as a brutal reminder of education then, which was to enslave the imagination, and to appropriate the human being from his soul. A 2000 report to UNESCO by J. Esteve, The Transformation of the Teachers Role at the End of the Twentieth Century: New Challenges for the Future highlighted the intrinsic nature of mass education is one that increased teacher-pupil and pupil-pupil violence. He adds, the authoritative mechanisms employed to control pupils no longer work as effectively as they did as students are challenging the fact that they have no power in any form within a system which causes them harm.
This was demonstrated in the Harry Potter film “The Order of the Phoenix, whereby children who once had some level of control over their environmental, had this removed by the ministry which enforced the same method of learning from one book on the entire school, without reference to experience. Of course the students revolted. The happily married couple we were sitting next to were horrified.
– A systematic approach by asserting that all students of the same age can learn one thing in one particular way causes harm (a feeling of failure in one form or another).
– All children are unnaturally forced to sit behind desks to absorb not learn as the learning environment has been eliminated in the process.
– A child is forced to keep up in a class of up to 30 -50 other students is harmful (low self esteem, and likelihood of illiteracy).
– The teacher is forced to control the classroom in a military like fashion.
– The teacher is expected to get the entire class through on a single method.
– That single method is overly competitive setting up situations for intimidation, bullying, prejudice, humiliation, depravation.
– A child is being forced to see the world through one particular view, which excludes their own view/experience
– Everything a child does is monitored and directed.
Just like cities, the individual in a large school loses their identity to something bigger and more demanding. It is impersonal and does not care about your potential or your likes and dislikes. The lack of familiarity breeds a community of strangers, which lead to the feeling of alienation, and being invalidated. Without that sense of belonging, in real terms there is nothing to really be accountable to except a series of laws and by-laws which do not even care if you as the pupil exists.
“Pupils will do things when they are not known, to people whom they do not know far more readily than they would to those whom they do know” is the conclusion of the 2002 Department for International Development report “Towards Responsive Schools”
Most of those who have questioned the virtue of mass education have been former teachers. One would think they these teachers should have remained in teaching to change the system, but if the system is intrinsically wrong, change is not possible, especially if the Administrators think that there is nothing wrong. One of those former teachers is John Taylor Gatto, who authored the Book “Against School”. How many times have you come across a child who is against school, without realizing that there is a justifiable reason to be against school. Gatto reflected:
“I taught for thirty years in some of the worst schools in Manhattan, and in some of the best, and during that time I became an expert in boredom. Boredom was everywhere in my world, and if you asked the kids, as I often did, why they felt so bored, they always gave the same answers: They said the work was stupid, that it made no sense, that they already knew it. They said they wanted to be doing something real, not just sitting around. They said teachers didn’t seem to know much about their subjects and clearly weren’t interested in learning more. And the kids were right: their teachers were every bit as bored as they were”.
Jealously, my daughter referred to the students who graduated to become lecturers at the same university they were students of. Why jealously, when she is not in her graduation year is something else. She commented on going to their study room for some advise, and noticed all the reminders they had pinned up on the wall about being a good teacher. My response questioned the purpose of those reminders when they themselves have only gone straight from university into teaching when in fact they were not taught. What do you mean was her shocked response. I replied:
“They have not experienced life, let alone their subject in life, so how can they teach it”.
Gatto pointed out that George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln were not products of a mass education schooling system, and they never graduated from high school. Inventors like Edison, industrial leaders like Rockefeller; writers, Mark Twain and scholars like Margaret Mead were never schooled. And to add to that list are the long list of Muslim scientists that have left a large legacy to the modern world.
Recently performing in Cairo, Benjamin Zephaniah peformed at the Alzhar Park. A rasta, who writes and performs poetry for the betterment of humanity, and makes a good living traveling the world, was a rebellious pupil in and out of trouble when he was at school. Deemed uneducated, he was told as a child that he was a oorn failure. He told Al Ahram Weekly reporter Ingy Al-Kashef:
“My uncle sat me down once, after I’d been in trouble with the ploice and thrown out of school. I was 13 or 14. He said: ” Look, you’ve got to behave yourself; you’ve got to conform more” So I said: ” What do I do?” He said, “You get an apprenticeship after school, get a job, find a nice dark-skinned Jamaican girl, and then you get married, get a mortgage and a house, and you make some babies”. Then Zephaniah paused and asked “And then what?” and then he said: ” Then you die.” Then I remember coming back from the meeting saying if that is why I am here, if that is the meaning of life, if I can’t find anything etter, I’m going to kill myself.”
Benjamin Zephaniah received and rejected an OBE from Queen Elizabeth for his work.
Gatto became curious about the purpose of secondary education when he read the book The Child, the Parent and the State.” This book was written by James Bryant Conant who was president of Harvard University for 20 years, executive of the atomic bomb project, and WWI poison gas expert. Written in 1959, Conant referred to a book which was the basis of the American education system. Written by Alexander Inglis in 1918 (after whom an education lecture is named after at Harvard), which is to:
1) The adjustive or adaptive function. Schools are to establish fixed habits of reaction to authority.
2) The “integrating function”. Like the “integration” debate on Muslims in European countries, it is not about pluralism but conformity. People who conform are predictable, and this is of great use to those who wish to harness and manipulate a large labor force.
3) The “diagnostic and directive “ function. School is meant to determine each student’s proper social role.
4) The “differentiating function”. Once their social role has been “diagnosed,” children are to be sorted by role and trained only so far as their destination in the social machine merits – and not one step further.
5) The selective function. Schools are meant to tag the unfit – with poor grades, remedial placement, and other punishments – clearly enough that their peers will accept them as inferior and effectively bar them from the reproductive sweepstakes.
6) The “propaedeutic” function. An elite group of caretakers is required.
Hands up to anyone who can recognize any of the above! If you felt, but did not know that this is what was being done to you, how would you react? What if you knew that the understanding behind black psyops/psychological warfare, is the knowledge that people are more reactive, and more confused when they do not know what is happening to them? In the Israeli war on Lebanon, Hizbollah countered Israel’s black psyops, y making sure the people did know what was going on, and the Lebanese ended up more sane, and more unified (across faiths), than any other operation.
Now we have witnessed how violence is perpetuated from the emotional and psychological harm that transfers to physical harm. It is natural to a child, to learn, to evolve, to develop and explore. Education from the Latin means to draw out the latent powers of an individual. When a person is being prevented from doing so, the result is only natural. One might assume that well that’s rubbish, I did well; and maybe academically you have done well, but the harm is also emotional and psychological, so I ask you, are you leading the life you want to lead or is it being led for you?
• Massification vs. personalization
• Uniformity vs. variety
• Conformity vs. creativity
• Fragmented vs. holistic
• Theory vs. practice
• Time rigidity vs. time flexibility
Where are you and your child midst these opposites?
We live in opposites, it is from opposites we are to learn, to grow as humans, and become more harmonious, but if we are deprived of the opposite, if we are told in so many ways that the opposite does not exist, then harm is being done, because we are being prevented from establishing the natural patterns of our lives which exists between opposites.
Given the above then how can modern schooling/mass education/factory education provide the following for your child:
• Social cohesion
Instead isn’t schooling:
• Removing your child from the family sphere of influence including values, ethics, and faith
• Making your child too competitive, thus argumentative, feelings of inferiority, internalized racism/sexism
• Turning your child into a stranger
Then look at the children that do, do well – what do they have in common! And in 5 years time, what do they have in common!
Taking Control of Your Family Home
T.V. Turnoff Week!
By Hwaa Irfan
There is not one home that does without this item which has become the sole means of entertainment, “education”, comforter, and titillation. In fact, some would go into a tantrum if the very idea of getting rid of this item was ever expressed. This item is the T.V. which is more influential than the news, and has helped to program our youth, no matter where they are in the world to… I was going to say think, but thinking has very little to do with the way in which we “interact” with it.. In fact, most people sit passively, not realizing that they are being programmed to like, want, reject, revile the same things.
Probably nobody has thought that this box could have this effect, but oblivious to our understanding, the T.V. controls more of us, than we control of ourselves. But do we really want to take control of our lives – do we!
• Do we want to stop living our lives through our personal T.V. heroes and sheroes?
• Do we wish that our lives were more interesting?
• Do we wish the level of communication with family members is better than it has been?
…well try turning off the T.V.
Were you expecting a more magical solution?
Well, believe it or not turning off the T.V. can do just that!
Here is your chance to discover how something so simple as turning off the T.V. can have a positive effect on your life, and family relations.
T.V. Turnoff Week happens twice a year, but there is nothing to prevent you from making it a permanent feature of your life. The second TV Turn-off week of 2010 is scheduled for September 18 to 24.
So what’s the fuss!
TV Turnoff Week is an event that aims at reminding the family members who love to sit in front of the TV that time is flying by, and there are other things to do in life.
In a longitudinal study by Rowell Huesmann and others, it was found that there exists a direct relation between the behavior of children between 6 and 10 years of age and their behavior in adulthood 15 years later. It was also found that the children perceive the violence on TV as a mirror of real life.
Men who had participated as children in the group named TV High Violence Viewers were, as adults, more likely to push or grab their spouses or to commit a crime than those who had participated in the groups TV Low Violence Viewers and TV Medium Violence Viewers.
Women who had participated as children in the group TV High Violence Viewers were, as adults, more likely to throw something at their spouses than those who had participated in the other two groups. Also, they were more likely to react with physical aggression against anyone who made them mad.
This study was carried out between 1977 and 1992, so one can imagine the results that would come out nowadays. A child can start to watch TV at the age of two. On average, people watch the TV four hours a day. Multiplied by seven days a week, 52 weeks a year, and then averagely 16 years of one’s lifetime, this results in a long period of time, during which one is “trained” on how not to behave!
Meanwhile, thousands upon thousands of real people are suffering somewhere in the world, including your neighborhood, and real lives are being lost. If you are not stuck in front of the TV, that is because you are a mom who is struggling to make a hotel seem like a home.
While your children are sitting in front of the TV, how much do you know about what they think or feel? How much do you know about what they are watching when you are not watching? Instead of becoming desensitized by TV, your children can be actively engaged in real communication with real people, using their imagination and doing activities as members of a family.
While your children are glued to the TV, a number of negative effects take place.
• Your 2-year-old’s brain, which is in need of real-life communication and challenges that stimulate healthy growth, passively takes in values and patterns of behavior from the TV. In the process, your child develops a consumerist mentality that is not favored in the family. The child then stops to use his or her brain to think, inquire, or work things out.
• An average American child will see 200,000 acts of violence and 16,000 murders by the time he or she is 18 years of age.
• Girls will learn to sexualize their self-image, and boys will learn to see girls as sex objects. All this does not take into account what they will learn from the CDs, DVDs, and videos.
• The two-dimensional screen of a TV and the constant flicker of light impair the development of the eyes. A child’s eyes continue to develop up until the age of 12 years.
• While children are being bombarded with images from the TV, they are not developing their own images essential to the development of their own creativity and imagination, as well as their social and cognitive skills.
If you still do not believe in any of the above, it will do you no harm to switch off the TV for just one week and plan a week of family activities instead. Even if you have a busy week of work and studies, the family spirit is still possible by
• Praying together
• Eating together at previously set times
• Sharing what each one has done during the day
• Sharing concerns and stories
• Helping with the housework
• Helping with the schoolwork
• Finding out about the topic being studied for homework
• Playing with children
• Gathering around a newspaper, with each one taking a turn in sharing something of interest in that newspaper and discussing that piece of news with the others
• Visiting relatives together
• Going out to a Muslim event together
• Planning a summer activity (cooking, decorating, camping, adventure walk, discovering the locality/country) in which you live or a holiday together
• Sharing a lesson, a Qur’anic verse, or a Prophetic hadith
• Family theater
• Playing a game together
• Taking the time to learn something that you have always wanted to do, but there wasn’t enough time; so you thought!
• Going to bed at a reasonable time, so that each one can get up the next day refreshed and ready to take on the world
You never know — you might find your children more willing to listen when the week is up. with less tension in the home as aspirations become your own and not those of others; as each watching family member reclaims their imagination, and their sense of self, so will the love and mutual recognition in sha’ Allah.
“What Do I Need to Know About Children and TV? ” University of Michigan Health System.
Huesmann, L. Rowell, et al. “Longitudinal Relations Between Children’s Exposure to TV Violence and Their Aggressive and Violent Behavior in Young Adulthood: 1977–1992.” Developmental Psychology 39.2 (2003): 201–221.