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Student kills American teacher in northern Iraq
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Captain Willard



Joined: 11 Sep 2010
Posts: 161

PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2012 2:04 pm    Post subject: Student kills American teacher in northern Iraq Reply with quote

Reuters wrote:

ARBIL, Iraq (Reuters) - An Iraqi student shot dead his American teacher and then shot himself in northern Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region on Thursday, the provincial governor said.

"There was an argument between the student and his American teacher ... and as a result of that argument the student shot dead his teacher using a pistol he had, and then shot himself," said Sulaimaniya Province Governor Zan Mohammad Salih.

He said the student had survived the shooting and was now in hospital.

Salih gave the American teacher's name as Jeremiah Small and identified the student as Beyar al-Talabani.

"We cannot say there is a political or religious dimension to the incident and the investigation is still going on. It is an ordinary criminal incident," the governor said....


http://news.yahoo.com/student-kills-american-teacher-northern-iraq-113515733.html

The hazards of teaching in the Middle East. Sounds like a grading or attendance problem.
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9434
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2012 3:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Failed him on a test?? Shocked
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veiledsentiments



Joined: 20 Feb 2003
Posts: 15998
Location: USA

PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2012 3:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In a country with so much going on, this sort of thing isn't surprising. But we usually hear about it in the US - easy access to weapons being the problem.

It could also be an honor killing... an affair or a perceived affair...

Always a sad story for both sides when something like this happens.

VS
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Captain Willard



Joined: 11 Sep 2010
Posts: 161

PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2012 7:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

From this account, the motive could have been religion. The teacher was there to teach them gym, and he was praying in the classroom and praising Christianity. Proselytizing Christianity is not welcome when 95% of the population is muslim, nor is it wise.

CBSNews wrote:
Authorities in the Kurdish city of Sulaimaniyah said 18-year-old Biyar Sarwar shot his gym teacher, U.S. citizen Jeremiah Small, before turning the gun on himself at a private English-speaking school during a morning sports lecture. Sarwar died later at a nearby hospital.

Small, 33, was from Cosmopolis, a town in western Washington state near the coast. His father, J. Dan Small, confirmed the death on his Facebook page. "Our oldest, Jeremiah, was martyred in Kurdistan this a.m.," the elder Small wrote....

Sulaimaniyah police spokesman Sarkawit Mohammed, no relation to Ahmed, said the shooting appeared to be a murder-suicide, but provided no motive. He said Sarwar hid the gun in his clothes before the lecture at the Medes School, a private Christian academy of elementary through secondary grade level classes.

The Medes program runs three schools in the provinces that make up Iraq's northern Kurdish region, boasting an enrollment of about 2,000 students. According to the schools' website, American staff often teach one or two courses each semester. An estimated 95 percent of the students are from Kurdish Muslim families.

Students described Small as a devout Christian who frequently praised Christianity and prayed in the classroom. However, Sulaimaniyah Mayor Zana Hama Saleh said Small was not a missionary and cast doubt that the killing was motivated by sectarian issues because Sarwar "had no radical religious tendencies."


http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-202_162-57388372/american-gym-teacher-dies-in-iraq-school-shooting/?tag=strip
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9434
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2012 8:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, but the school apparently was an openly Christian academy, so presumably the students were aware and accepting of Christians. The fact that the victims' father has called his son a 'martyr' might indicate some relatively radical Christian beliefs, though...
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 12435
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2012 9:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear spiral78,

"However, Sulaimaniyah Mayor Zana Hama Saleh said Small was not a missionary and cast doubt that the killing was motivated by sectarian issues because Sarwar "had no radical religious tendencies."

Perhaps that's because "radicals" never regard themselves as being "radical".

Regards,
John
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9434
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2012 9:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear John:

My own parents' religious views seem quite radical to me, but they certainly wouldn't describe themselves in that way by any means. So, I can entirely
understand how someone whose personal faith (of whatever persuasion) is strongly devout and heart-felt can come across as a radical without necessarily seeing themselves that way.

Though the use of the word 'martyr' would seem to imply fairly openly that the father's view is that his son was killed in the process of trying to spread his faith, I think....
...aren't only missionaries martyred, essentially? Or am I just being pedantic here??

Best,
spiral
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 12435
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2012 10:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear spiral78,

Using the term "martyr" would seem to me to indicate that the father felt his son was killed FOR his faith (though perhaps not necessarily for actively trying to spread it).

But we'd have to be privy to just what the word "martyr" means to the father.

Regards,
John
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9434
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2012 10:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear John:

Fair enough. We'll never really know. In any case, a tragedy for everyone concerned.

Best,
spiral
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sliim



Joined: 27 Jan 2006
Posts: 55

PostPosted: Fri Mar 02, 2012 8:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It is hard to speculate on the cause of this. Sometimes things can be weird in the ME.

An anecdote:

I once had Arabic lessons included as part of a teaching contract and was assigned to a disgruntled Arabic teacher, upset at the administration for not providing him with photocopies of the text he used to teach his students. Well, of course, they ran out of copies, and as a means of getting back at them, he refused to provide his copy for the administration to make me one, which made for delays in my lessons. This silly standoff lasted for a few weeks, and eventually I got tired of it and told the Arabic teacher to stop being childish and let them copy the bloody text.

To my surprise, the Arabic teacher flew into a fit of rage, overturned tables in the cafeteria, and screamed at me that I was nothing but a foreigner--which I assume is some kind of insult. Naively, I suspected that this would all blow over, but no. In order to save face for his outrageous behavior, he then ran to the police and told them I had attacked him and threatened him with a utility knife.

I was arrested and brought to a kind of “mini-trial” at the police station. During the discussion I demanded that my accuser swear on the Quran that he was not a liar, which, being full of bullocks, he refused to do. Everyone present then knew he was lying and things turned in my favor.

This was an insulting incident, but the upside to this was that the police chief befriended me, gave me his number, and told me to call him if ever I needed any help.

I was lucky. I was lucky that my accuser was not well connected, and I was lucky that he had enough sense of piety to not lie through his teeth to the point of swearing on the Quran.

The lesson I learned: beware of little things. For the right amount of bribe money, for someone’s twisted sense of honor, or for someone’s weird pleasure of abusing another person, you can get into trouble, even for some fool's @#$% photocopies.

My point in this little tale is that sometimes people have twisted minds, and little things can be blown way out of proportion. One man’s quarrel over photocopies can nearly land another one in jail. While my case was something out of Absurdist Theater, this one is far more serious.

I am sad to hear of this murder. It would be insightful to know the details.
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Mikalina



Joined: 03 May 2011
Posts: 108
Location: Iraq

PostPosted: Sun Mar 04, 2012 5:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Christian teachers at the Medes Schools go as Christians which is why the father was able to say that his son had laid down his life for his faith. These teachers DO NOT evangelise or pray in the classroom; they go TO SERVE. They get together for pray and worship and to encourage each other and are often financially supported by their home churches, but there raison d'etre is TO SERVE in any way they can.

Also, anyone who is not Muslim in Erbil is seen as Christian as it is mostly incomprehensible that anyone should not have a belief/faith. The area where westerners congregate, live, entertain themselves and buy alcohol is called the Christian area.

Anyone who has money in Erbil has a gun. If they have a lot of money they have bullets. Students who go to private schools have money ergo there is always a possibility that one of your male students will have the means to kill you.

There is nothing easier on this planet than to offend a Kurd. It does not need a major 'honour' reason. Often you have no idea that you have upset someone. If you student is related to someone important from one of the ruling tribes, (especially government ministers), then he will also believe he has 'the right'.

I packed my bags and left overnight from the school where I was working after I had been threatened with a gun. I had no doubt that I was in physical danger.

The Kurds, as a people, have been brutalised by the actions of the rest of the world. Their heros/heroines are the Peshmerga - armed defenders of the Kurdish way of life; people who had pride; people who had a purpose; people the young men want to emulate. The place is a tinderbox and any teacher who wants to work there should not go with blinkers on.
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 04, 2012 5:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mikalina, thanks for the insights. It makes the meaning of the sad story quite a lot clearer.
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sliim



Joined: 27 Jan 2006
Posts: 55

PostPosted: Tue Mar 06, 2012 4:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow, I completely misread that article. When I read it I thought the father of the killer called his son a "martyr" after killing himself. I guess the loaded term triggered stereotypes in my brain. It slipped my mind that ideas of martyrdom are not the monopoly of Muslims.

I know this is a sensitive topic, and I do not want to disrespect the situation here (after all, someone was killed), but I have some lingering questions:

I was in charge of hiring at an institute in the ME for a while, and occasionally I would get CVs from evangelicals who would quite openly state that their mission was to serve the "LORD" (the all caps was common in the CVs). Now I generally try to keep politics, religion and other red flags out of the classroom, so I never found it appropriate to hire someone in a Muslim country who would openly declare on their CV that their intent was to proselytize. It was a weird situation. On the one hand, I did not want to toss away otherwise good candidates with adequate credentials, but on the other, in my view, if one could not keep the red flags out of the CV, I could not expect that they will keep them out of the classroom, so no thanks.

I also worked in an institute with a missionary for a while, and like your post, Mikalina, whenever I would press my colleague about his intentions he would deny that he was proselytizing, and simply say that his purpose was to “serve,” which comes across to me as deliberate vagueness.

Naturally, preaching one’s religion is not something one should be killed for (at least not in my mind), but I would like some clarification regarding the difference between “serving” and “proselytizing,” or at least have a clear definition of what “serving” means and what it entails.

Any thoughts?
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9434
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 06, 2012 4:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, as the child of Baptist missionaries, I can say that their definition of 'serving' would be to gently encourage 'learning about Jesus' (and etc) at every slightest opening. They would quietly give out bibles, tracts, and 'true' bible stories for children to anyone who seemed at all open to them.

It's somewhat different from proselytizing in that they wouldn't be offering materials or prayers or anything to total strangers on the street or people with whom they work who are clearly not open to such things - but 'openness' is obviously highly subjective and they would most definitely err on the side of 'offering' as versus not.

To 'serve,' to my parents at least, would mean doing a job from a Christian point of view, and their own Christianity would most definitely be clearly obvious to anyone around them - that's the point of 'serving;' to help others in both concrete/secular and spiritual ways. To people as devout as my parents, it would be impossible to split the secular and spiritual aspects of their life and work and to hide their faith and their wish to introduce others to it.

Given massive cultural differences between someone from the US and someone from almost any part of the ME, I can easily imagine inadvertent insult.
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sliim



Joined: 27 Jan 2006
Posts: 55

PostPosted: Tue Mar 06, 2012 5:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

spiral78,

Thanks for that reply. So tell me, in your view, is it wrong to toss aside an application from someone who puts this kind of language in his/her CV, or should one just ignore it and go by the education and work history?

How the students would get along with the teacher is also important, and I question whether someone of that mindset would gel with them, in a genuine sense.

What's your take?
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