Saturday, March 3, 2012

Kurdish Northern Iraq first school shooting

I have observed and listened ever since Thursday when our friend Mohammed arrived at the house to tell us that something bad had happened. In a local private school a highschool student had shot his American teacher and then committed suicide. I think I am hardened. It did not really make an impact on me. (And later the director of education was reported to have said, "this is normal. It happens in America all the time".)

I was shocked 3 hours later to find an article on the Winnipeg Free Press website .http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/breakingnews/iraq-authorities-say-american-teacher-shot-in-apparent-murder-suicide-in-kurdish-region-141012513.html  I wondered if the story had flown so quickly because the victim was an American. Would it have done so if a Kurdish boy had killed a Kurdish teacher?

Any way it is now 3 days since it happened and we are finding that the city is extremely shocked and is reeling from the situation. Teacher Jeremiah Small who had been teaching at a private school here apparently was involved in an argument with the 18 year old student and in the middle of class the boy had taken out a handgun. Reports from the students are not consistent. Some say it was about religion, others say it was nothing to do with religion. Nobody seems to know why the boy was provoked to do the act and then to turn the gun onto himself.

It is known that he is from a very influential family- one that could have worked probably very easily to smooth over the crime. It is also said that Mr Small was careful not to preach Christianity. It is a Christian school but parents know this when their students are enrolled.

Today, we were asked by a group of our partners if we would help them to plan some sort of action with regard to the death of Jeremiah Small. We felt uncomfortable with this. We did not know the man or the boy but we consider that there are two victims in this. The boy of a  society that seems to consider handguns to be an Ok thing to carry around (we have been told by our partners that members of the goverment leadership have given gifts of over 25,000 handguns that don't have to be registered because they have a special exemption seal on them). The man is obviously a victim of this ideology as well as of a boy who seems to have been disturbed for some reason.

We suggested that an action had to be done to remember that both were victims, but the Kurds we know are not ready for this. They are very angry at the boy- some even spoke of hate. We hope that sometime they will be able to move out of this. We hope that someday the handgun will not be a typical piece of apparel-- here and in America.

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