#2 | 15 November 2023
My mother wished me a ‘Happy Children’s Day’ yesterday, even though I don’t qualify as a child anymore. I had forgotten all about this day until she reminded me of it. 14 of November, a celebration of young people, designed to raise awareness about the welfare of children in India, after the first Prime Minister of the nation. Each year, we would be given a red rose at school, in celebration. A red rose to commemorate childhood.
In addition, a large part of the world celebrated Diwali, the festival of light, over the weekend. This has always been the holiday that I look forward to the most, a time to come together with family, and friends, and share warmth, love and light, in theory celebrating the triumph of the light. But how can we celebrate light, when so many thousands have been shrouded in darkness?
Over 4000 children have been killed in this last month. It is appalling, heartbreaking and so shocking to see that calls for a ceasefire still have to be voted for and justified.
We often look back at history to ‘study’, and ‘explore’ war and resistance, we loudly condemn the people who turned a blind eye to violence, and we make grand gestures of ‘remembrance’ for martyrs and victims, We are interested in the aesthetics of resistance, yet do nothing to stop war and assault as it plays out in front of our eyes.
I keep coming back to the children. In an attempt to make sense of the ‘pain of others’, I go back to my archive of art that I have experienced. I am reminded of some paintings I saw earlier this year. Whilst the artist has not linked these works to any specific individuals or events, the ambiguous and slightly troubling depiction of children in these oil paintings, seems to speak to the current moment (in my eyes). Their expressions suggest a combination of fear, longing, waiting, and confronting. It is difficult to pin the exact emotion down. Yet, there is a deep tone of the apocalyptic, the uncomfortable, that comes through, through their eyes. When I go and march in solidarity I see so many parents bringing their young children to also raise their voices. I feel a sense of hope looking at these young ones, perched on their parents’ shoulders with their signs, yet my heart also cries for those who have gone.
I don’t have words, so I turn to art, which perhaps has the ability to articulate what goes beyond and in between words.
#1 | 20 October 2023
Text by Jenny Harjuno, Images and Media curated by SHOR
(This is a shifting, changing and living archive. If you have something to add to it, write to us on Instagram or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We welcome art, words, sounds, poetry, images, and memories, anything that resonates even if it is from a different context).
A reading of 'Hum Dekhenge', by Faiz Ahmed Faiz for the In Another Voice Podcast
L, R: Aya Haidar, Safe Space Series 2023, Embroidery on Cotton, C: Khalil Rabah, ‘Acampamento Vila Nova Palestina’, 2017.
Here are the sounds I recorded. Here are the moments I did not:
A hijabi woman with bags under her eyes asking me, halfway through the march, if I know where we're actually going. I shrug and her son, barely older than 10, excitedly pipes up and informs us, "We're heading to Downing Street to tell the Prime Minister what we think!"
I smile at him and tell her she's got a brave one. She looks at him fondly and tells me, "I know. I'm very proud of him."
On the street I see two young girls holding up a flag, standing by the sidewalk and looking nervous. I approach them, worried, and ask if they're okay. They reassure me - their friend is praying, and they're covering her with the flags.
As we reach Parliament Square a boy shouts "takbir!" The takbir is the magnification - Allahu Akbar. God is greatest. We say it in prayer, during celebrations, during births, during deaths; from gratitude and from grief. Where I am from this is an exceedingly common statement. In the United Kingdom I do not say it out loud in public.
A group of us respond - "Allahu Akbar!" I have covered my face completely and still feel terror exclaiming this, knowing what is said about the religion of my forefathers in this part of the world. I watch as people 10 years younger than me stand, brave and unashamed, and proclaim - God is the greatest.
L: Munem Wasif, Dark Water, 2019, C: Video Interviews from ‘Material Power: Palestinian Embroidery’, R: Bani Abidi, They asked for a map, and so I drew them a line, 2023
The illegal occupation and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians is not solely a religious issue. Palestinian Christians, Palestinian Jews, Palestinians of all creeds and faiths have been targeted.
Nor does solidarity with Palestine come exclusively from the Muslim community. A woman holds up a sign that proudly exclaims "Jews for Palestine." Two blocks later, a woman holds up a sign that says "Queers for Palestine." Up and down the block I see solidarity - Irish flags, Black Lives for Palestine signs, I think i see Cuba's flag at one point. It is not Islam that unites us but our humanity, and our solidarity with the brave resistance and rights of people of Palestine.
Still, some would like to paint it as a "Muslim issue." This makes it easier, see, to brand Palestinians with that ever-favorite word of Western media: terrorist. This makes it easier to obfuscate the truth.
Already we see a rise in Islamophobia; yesterday in America a 6 year old Palestinian Muslim boy was murdered by his landlord, who proclaimed "you muslims must die."
I grew up in the 2000s, in the aftermath of the self-proclaimed "war on terror." I fear what could happen again, what is already happening. Many do - and I am sure, particularly the people who face the constant subjugation: the people of Gaza, who Israel has dropped 6000 bombs on within the last week alone.
L: Precarious Life, Judith Butler, 2004, C: Arundhati Roy, Azadi : Freedom. Fascism. Fiction., 2020, R: Agha Shahid Ali, Dear Shahid, 1996
Still resistance continues; still people live and fight for their right to exist. It is our duty as people with conscience to continue fighting, as whatever fear we feel is incomparable to what the people of Palestine face - and have faced for decades.
There is another protest this Saturday, in London, and so many all around the world, wherever you are.