Children of a burning village

Children of a burning village

This slam poem was written by Pymble Ladies’ College student Tahmara Thomas as part of a school contest. It explores the experience of Islamophobia and radicalisation for young men growing up in Australia.

When he was in Year five
He dressed up for Australia day
Wore the Aussie flag
Around his shoulders, like it was a cape
He was so proud of his country
The place where he was born
He memorised the anthem
And sang it until dawn
But he came back from school that day
His heart broken and his cape torn
He came back from school that day

Something changed, something died thereon
And then a week later
He was shopping for snacks
When his mum’s hijab was ripped off
By a snarling, vile man
He started crying
As the hatred attacked
‘Go back to where you came from
We don’t want you, you’re filthy’

He turned around and said that where he’s from is Sydney
More things happened
He turned bitter, smiles into frowns
He was sick of being outed
For being Muslim and being brown
You called him terrorist so many times
Maybe he started to believe it
He thought you’d never accept him

So he stopped trying, just quit
He thought if they paint me as the devil
Then like hell I’ll be it
Well, congratulations
He quit
He gave up and joined the stereotype
They whispered powerful words of injustice
He couldn’t even tell he was being radicalised 

Hated.
Isolated.
Alienated.
Angry.
Ashamed.

Young boys who are told
By their fellow Australians
That they’ll always be
Outsiders and aliens
They’re hurt, and desperate
For someone that will accept them

Islamophobia is where the issue stems
By the Australian people
Muslim children are condemned
Torn between their country 
And their religion
They’re overwhelmed, so
Then comes in extremist groups,
And extremist men offering them
The love and embrace,
That they’ve only dreamt off
Whilst others say piss off
‘Paki’, ‘Ape’
And he’ll barely scrape by
Defined as a dangerous terrorist

On the news
His family construed
As plotting away
But at the end of the day
He was a child
Remember
When you see their faces
In the playground
Hear them sing,
In this, their hometown

A child who is not embraced by their village
Will burn it down to feel its warmth.

Tahmara Thomas

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