Saturday, January 29, 2011

What the kids think

Today was my first day teaching teenagers post-revolution. Not surprisingly, it was an interesting experience.

It's hard to overstate how dangerous it was to talk about politics under Ben Ali. Even teenagers and younger children had to toe the party line or there would be serious consequences.

Before the revolution I always tried really hard to avoid talking about politics. American politics were fine, as was Israel/Palestine, as long as it never touched on local things (for instance, Israel was bad but Ben Ali's support of them wasn't). Bringing up Tunisian politics would at best elicit uncomfortable lies and at worst put my students in serious trouble.

Since the revolution has happened, all anyone here can do is talk politics,  so I decided what hell, and used Tunisian current affairs to practice grammer points (we were going over modals and comparatives).

My students are all 15 year olds who wear jeans and ironic trucker hats, and who listen to Lil Wayne and Justin Bieber, so I was sorta surprised how religious they are. Ben Ali's repression of religion was very hard on them, and the freedom to practice their religion freely was one of the things they looked forward to the most.

One boy in my class said that he was happy that he could go to morning prayers (in the wee hours) at his Mosque with his dad. This is a pretty normal practice for serious muslims, but in Ben Ali's day (6 weeks ago) youths who did this faced arrest or worse. Also many girls in my class said that they were thinking about wearing hijab now, because due to government policy women wearing hijab had a harder time getting employed and educated.

Since the revolution many of my friends have started wearing Hijab and growing beards (having a long beard and going to prayers could supposedly get you disappeared) and it's one of the most visible signs of the revolution. We hear a lot in America about regimes around here that repressively enforce Islam,  but a lot regimes are just as oppressive in the opposite direction and it's nice to see people take their basic rights back.

Things in Egypt look like Tunisia about a month ago. Mubarak fired his entire government and filled it up with Military guys. This is clearly a ploy to keep the Military invested in the regime so they don't go and side with the protesters like Tunisian Army did.

Things in Egypt also make things here look pretty good.

1 comment:

  1. Have you seen this report from Al Jazeera? Thought you might find it interesting.