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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