The opinions expressed by students do not represent the views of Ramallah Friends School (FBS) and Friends United Meeting.
My Freedom

How does your religious beliefs effect your view of what people should be free to do in Palestine? – Kieran Sweeney (London, England)

Of course my religious background affects my view of what people should be free to do in Palestine. I am a person who tries to connect between my religious works and enjoying my life. My view of the relation between religion and freedom suggests that each person must be close to his religion, but also live freely in his life and enjoying it.
By Ahmad

The Christian religion doesn’t talk about clothes much and how we must dress, and this is a problem here in Palestine. Because in the Muslim religion, women are required to wear conservative clothes, so when we go out in public places we are required to dress conservatively. It also affects drinking alcohol, and eating pork; alcohol is found in restaurants but not very often in markets. Pork is rarely found in public places.
By Zeina

Our society needs to be cooperative and lovable because we’re an occupied country and the enemy tries to destroy us and vanquish us from existence. All of that needs to be done or repaired to make us stronger. To do these things we must have a strong economy. For example, we don’t have to follow the communist economic way which seeks economic justice within society, or capitalism’s, which does not make complete justice because capitalism can make some people very rich, but it makes others very poor. Islam’s economy can make both economies work at the same time. It makes an almost rich society equal. But the Islamic economic way is not used by people at this time. When it was used hundreds of years ago it worked very successfully. Great powers today try to spread capitalism by force and stop the Islamic economy because the Islamic economy will be very strong and that can threatens them. I think that an Islamic economy should be established in Palestine and in the world.
By Ahmad

To have certain beliefs lets you think in a different way. Some people in Palestine have no reason to live, and have no goals to achieve. This kind of people sit around doing nothing. I just can’t understand why these people are like this. My religion surely tells me to learn, believe in God, and also to have some goals in my life that I would love to achieve. Yes, people are free to do whatever they want. But I don’t think over here we have known freedom. In Palestine, there’s a freedom where each person does whatever he wants and thinks it’s just right, while it’s wrong. So my religious beliefs have an impact on how I view the simple freedom of some Palestinians.
By Monica

I think that my religion, Islam, has a very nice concept about the freedom of people. Maybe this concept is not mentioned directly, but after reading and discussing the Quran, you can conclude it. It states that "your freedom stops when the others' freedoms starts." Also, our religion taught us that we should never abandon our rights, we should always defend against people who try to take them from us. I think that Palestine is one of our rights. Therefore, we should never leave it to others to take it; we must take a good care of it, and we shouldn't let anyone take a handful of sand from it. In other words, we should defend against our occupiers, in order to save our rights.
By Sami

My religion suggests many ways to be a faithful person. It suggests we to pray to God, go to the church, respect our parents, not steal, not kill, not to think about sex in a bad way, and many other examples that everyone should follow. They can show the ethics of a person. According to these suggestions, every person is not free to do these bad things.
By Marian

In our country there are different religious backgrounds. Some people believe that a small amount of freedom should be given to the people. Others believe that people take the freedom they want. Personally, I believe that people should take the freedom they want depending on their opinions and religious backgrounds.
By Waleed

My religious beliefs don’t affect my view of what people should be free to do in Palestine. That's because what people do is not against my religious beliefs. People's manners, in all the religions, should be good. The worst behaviors are forbidden in all the religions, so there is no problem in my religious beliefs.
By Abbas

Do you feel free to do what you want? Do you feel restricted or restrained in your culture? – Valerio, Nina, and Bianca (MALTA)

Our culture does have rules and restrictions. These restrictions are what make our culture different and unique from other cultures in the world. People may not understand our culture, and they should not have to, but they do respect them. I feel that I am able to do what I want, but with certain limits, as it should be. Our culture or tradition is not like a prison, where there is no freedom. It is more like a house with rules.
By Canaan

Yes, in some cases I feel free, like I do what I think is good for me, and I do things that I'm convinced of; but in other cases, I don't feel free due to cultural or religious restrictions. For example, I do not drink alcohol because it's prohibited in Islam. Also I can't smoke in front of my father due to our culture; it is considered disrespectful. So a person should watch himself and do what is good for him, and what makes him feel better, and do what he wants to.
By Fahmi

I can’t do whatever I want. Here, most of the people are very religious and consider everything as a bad thing. They judge the appearance and not the inside personality and morals. I still can do almost everything I want because here in Ramallah people are more educated and understanding and more trusting. But limits are still around, and I need to respect my culture and people around me.
By Ahd

I was born in Palestine and I have been living here for about 15 years. In all these years, I have never felt that I wanted to do something and I couldn’t do it. I don’t say that my culture allows me to do everything, but the things that are prohibited by my culture—my manners don’t allow me to do them. I don’t feel restricted at all by my culture. Many teenagers in Palestine do a lot of prohibited things, and still nobody can do anything to them.
By Yazan

In many ways I feel free to do what I want, but we are not as free as other countries. For me that’s a good thing. Everything should have a limit because if we would be a country like America, our traditions and culture would flip upside down. I don’t feel restrained in my culture at all, although there is stuff that is restricted. In one way or another I feel that our culture is being driven away and that’s a bad thing.
By Faris

As a Palestinian, I can answer about what I want with yes or no. Yes, because almost everything I want I can do. No, because I can’t do everything. When it comes to knowledge and culture there are no borders that prevents or restricts me from gaining knowledge and improving my culture. When there are no restrictions and restorations in my culture then I can do what I want.
By Najeeb

Are you free to ignore your traditions or are some of them forced upon you? – Nick (Athens, Greece)

Some of the traditions are a must. We should do it even if we don’t like it, but if we liked a tradition we might apply it on our daily life, and we might as well commit to it. Some of the traditions we’re not forced to do. However, every country has its traditions and beliefs, but the difference is that in Palestine the people are more committed to it.
By Kamilia

People in Ramallah and in Palestine in general can’t ignore one of their traditions. These traditions begin at birth. These traditions grow with me, so are not forced upon me. For example, when I was child I learned one of the simplest traditions, which says that I can’t be late in coming home. This tradition grows with me and becomes one of my standards in life. In my opinion, I think that these traditions must not be ignored, because they are the values that we learned from our parents, and should teach them to our children.
By Janan

Some traditions that we have here in Palestine are ignored while others aren’t. But we’re grateful to have these traditions. For instance, some Palestinian old ladies wear the traditional folk gown, while others don’t. These traditions, though surely ignored, are replaced with other useful traditions. One of the traditions popular with Palestinians is the weddings. Another tradition that is not ignored are the songs. These traditional songs are often used on different occasions. These traditions won’t ever be ignored.
By Monica

First, if I want to start with my school community, I think that we're kind of free of traditions, since our school is kind of open-minded, according to the Palestinian community. But also the outside has a greater effect in our ways of thinking, dressing, and talking. Therefore, some traditions are forced upon us, such as the way we dress, or the idea of having a girlfriend. With some people, these ideas are accepted, but with others, it is impossible for them to be accepted.
By Sami

Tradition is a very important word in the Palestinian society. Everything, from the smallest thing to the most important thing, should follow the rules of the traditions and culture. And you can't ignore the traditions of your society and do whatever you want. Because you will be a neglected person, and everyone (even the people you don't know) will talk about you and spread rumors.
By Danah

“Traditions” is a big word that means a lot of things that I’m going to talk about. First, there are important traditions that I must do without any excuse, such as respecting the older person that may give you better advice or a better understanding. Second, there are unimportant traditions that I may follow or I may not follow, such as marrying a relative, which I can agree about, or disagree.
By Basil

Ignoring some traditions can be possible. Every person is free to ignore the traditions but it reveals what kind of a person he /she is. I mean that if they are open minded or not. Some of the girls can ignore the traditions because they don’t wear closed clothes. Boys and girls will neglect the tradition of marriages. They just choose each other at a level of understanding. Others can ignore unpopular traditions. As time goes by the traditions of Palestine are being erased because of the progress that can open the minds of people.
By Marian

I’m free to ignore some of my traditions, but there are some of them that are forced upon me. One tradition that is forced on me is that I’m not allowed to marry a Christian girl. This is not allowed because the whole society will look at you in a different way. Also, the Christians are not allowed to marry Moslems. This is because the parents are concerned that it is a bad thing for their family. There was an accident last year—a Christian father killed his daughter because she had loved a Moslem boy.
By Bashar

Traditions are not forced upon us as teenagers. However, even though we may not entirely endorse, agree, or believe in a certain tradition, we would do it out of esteem and respect for the elderly and the people around. Nevertheless, if there's a custom or a tradition that you just simply cannot do and cannot comprehend the reason behind it, you can just not do it.
By Reem

There are many traditions in our country and many occasions. Our family gathers with each other every week on Thursday. We eat, talk, solve problems, and give a chance for the kids to play games with each other. This is a tradition for our family. I can ignore this tradition by not coming every week. No one can stop me, but some forces like my mom force me to come, but the decision is in my hand. In Europe and America after you’re 18 years old your parents are not responsible for you, so you can do whatever you want. But in our country your parents are responsible for you after death, so you can’t get married without your family. I am very happy for this because I can’t choose my future unless I get a hand from my family. If you ignore this tradition you will never become something in our life.
By Waleed

In my society I am free to ignore some of the traditions because of life and time changing. However, there are some traditions that are required from us that we ought not to ignore so they will not to be forgotten from our society. For example, wearing a certain type of traditional clothing is not a must any more. As for forced traditions, females, for example, are not allowed to leave their parent’s house unless they are married. Finally, I would like to say that it’s nice to have forced traditions, to keep our culture alive.
By Lana

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