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

Religious head-coverings, such as the hijab, are not permitted in certain societies. For example, France banned religious head-coverings, including the Muslim hijabs and sikh turbans due to their secularism. Which is more important: equality and secularism OR individual and personal freedoms? From Ontario, Canada.

I think that people belonging to different religions and sections of society are equal before the law and government policy. I also think that there must be separation between politics and religion. It follows, therefore, that there can be no discrimination against anyone on the basis of religion or faith. Nor is there room for privileges or subsides to religion. In a secular society the freedom of religion is asserted and so is the freedom from religion. So yes, equality and secularism are far more important than any religion or religious practice.
By Ahmad

In times before Islam, Arabic women covered their hair as a tradition. Then Islam came and Allah in his holy Qur’an ordered Moslem women to cover their body and hair to protect them because a woman’s body and hair can be very attractive. A Moslem woman is now recognized by the hijab she wears (though a lot of Moslem women do not wear it).

I asked many women why they wear it. A lot of them said, “Because I’m a Moslem woman I should wear it. Allah and Islam said to cover my body, and I believe in what they say.” Or they said, “I’m a Moslem, and I’m just convinced to wear it.” Others said, “I feel comfortable wearing it.” Some said, “It’s a very scary world we’re living in, I feel protected by wearing it.” A very, very few of them said, “My husband or my brother makes me wear it.” That is very wrong. In Islam, women should never be forced to wear the hijab. She’ll wear it if she’s convinced of it or wants to wear it. However, some people just don’t understand what Islam is about. These are the people who give the world a wrong image about Islam and Moslems.

Half of the people in the world have a wrong impression about the hijab, and the women wearing it—not knowing the real reasons & motives behind wearing the hijab. Every time a Moslem woman with the hijab is seen in a foreign country, a question mark is put on her and she’s considered to be an odd person, or maybe she’ll turn out to be a terrorist or something. No wonder this happens. The Israeli and American media is publishing this crap. They don’t see that a lot of Christian women, and a lot of religious Jewish women, also cover their hair. Why are they fighting Moslem women and demanding they take their hijab off in schools & working places in France and Europe? This makes me wonder…where is the right of religious freedom, or the human rights they’ve been talking about?? No offence to my fellow Christians, but I bet if Christian women were in the place of Moslems, it would be a whole different story and no one would say anything about it.
By Pillar

I think that people belonging to different religions and sections of society are equal before the law and the government policy. I also think that there must be separation between politics and religion. It follows, therefore, that there can be no discrimination against anyone on the basis of religion or faith. Nor is there room for privileges or subsidies to religion. In a secular society the freedom of religion is asserted and so is the freedom from religion. So yes, equality and secularism are far more important than any religion or religious practice.
By Yazeed

Do you think the United States has too much freedom? – Ashley Ramos (California, USA)

We are not the ones who put the rules on freedom; our society does.
In every society, the freedom is different than in other societies, because the people in every society make their own rules about the things they believe in, such as religion and traditions. And these rules, such as how we dress, talk, walk, and the subjects we talk about, are our limits of freedom; the limits that these people put. So, if we go outside those limits it could be called too much freedom.
By Lama

My view about Americans, is that Americans have a poor education about the world; their problems are small, they are a people who only see how to spend their time in having fun, that is the real view of Americans in other countries.
Americans treat their freedom for their personal use, they don’t use it to demonstrate, or to support Iraq for example, or to support Palestinians. I think they have enough power to influence their government to support us but, as I said, American people only care about their silly problems, like, if you ask an American man, What is your problem? he will say: “I don know where to spend my vacation.”
By Rami

I think that the U.S. has too much freedom. The first big freedom is that it gives herself and others permission to destroy other countries. America gives herself permission to kill thousands in Iraq. America also gives Israel permission to take our land. Second, the freedom that it gives to teenagers and does nothing to stop it. Third, the freedom to choose any religion they want. In America, there are lots of people who do not believe in God. These freedoms and many others demonstrate that the U.S., in my point of view, has too much freedom.
By Janan

When someone gets his/her freedom, they start taking advantage of it and crossing the line. Freedom to me is self-independence. But when you get freedom, you should know how to respect yourself and others with that freedom. I think that the U.S. has too much freedom. You’re always stressed out, not knowing what’s going to happen in the streets in front of you. Rape has a high percentage in the states; I guess that’s a bad thing, isn’t it? Killing is something that’s almost normal in some states. So, in my case, I do think that the United States of America has too much freedom.
By Monica

U.S. is a very big country, and famous for its freedom. And for me, I only see this freedom on TV, and it sure isn’t all that perfect. And I can't say everything is free to do. I think this freedom given to the American people is good, but from the moral side, I think it's better to set rules for freedom.
By Danah

What is the freedom? I believe that no one has too much freedom. We don’t even know how to be completely free people because none of us ever has a chance to feel what it’s like to be free of everything. I don’t think that people in the U.S have too much freedom but they have more freedom than other countries have.
By Lina

There is absolutely to much freedom in the U.S. I don't mean about the way they dress or how they like to be free with life. I can see that they are more than free with using guns anywhere. You can be killed while walking on the streets. Kidnapping, stealing, & raping happen. I can see those problems when I watch Oprah or Dr.Phil. There are a lot of strange and scary stories.
By Marian

Every country should provide freedom for their people. I believe that our country should have the same freedom that the United States has. I can provide my answer with these points: First, the U.S. government gives opportunity for their citizens to explore things and provides them with money for their searches. Most in the West Bank government don’t even care about these things. Second, the U.S. government gives the freedom for their citizens to express their opinions against the government. In many governments freedom of expression is not allowed.
By Bashar

This depends on what kind of freedom you mean. We should have less freedom than U.S teens because they are so free that they do very bad things such as drugs, sex, and alcohol. I think that we should have more freedom than the freedom of choosing a president. You can't reject a president because he's black, or not catholic. Still, the U.S. is one of the strongest countries in the world.
By Ahmad

I think that freedom is very important in a person’s life but too much of it can cause a mess. I think that people can say anything they want as long as they are not hurting others. In my opinion, freedom with no control is terrible for the whole world. I believe that rulers should show some control.
By Ameed

What is your view of Americans and how they treat the freedoms they have? – Nikko Ladislaus (California, USA)

We can never judge people according to their government, because many times people do not agree with the actions and decisions of their governments. Since I have never lived among the American people nor heard their opinions, I can only say that I have been very much negatively affected by their government’s decisions. I do know one thing: while the American government claims democracy, it actually works against democracy in its foreign policies. Their government also has no respect for human rights.
By Pillar

I think that the Americans do have more freedom than we do as Palestinians. It is because the United States government was established, and commandments were made, as well as order and organization. Americans do have freedom, but there are limits and boundaries to that freedom. For example, there is the freedom of speech in the United States. One may be free to say whatever they want about different religions, but at the same time, they should not disrespect them, or insult them. There is always a way to speak freely and responsibly.
By Canaan

America is a democratic country. Americans have the right to say whatever they want about their country. Yet sometimes they abuse their right and take it too far. An example of this is in the media. Yesterday I was watching "The Late Night Show with Conan O'Brien", and in the show they were making fun of President Bush. The idea I came away with about America was that it was a weak country. What kind of country makes fun of their own president? And in front of the whole world!
By Chris

United States freedom has a negative reflection on the American people especially the teenagers. I see that a lot of countries have enough freedom so that there people live comfortably and without any negative reflections. For example, the chances for a teenager to start taking drugs in the United States is greater than for a teen that lives in an Arabic country.
By Lina

Do you think there is such a thing as too much freedom? – Anthony Schifano (California, USA)

I think that some of the freedom in the United States should be here in Palestine. It’s not good to have the same amount of freedom in the U.S., because this creates a lot of problems here. Such freedom creates many crimes and it decreases security for the Palestinian residents. Palestinian traditions don’t allow the amount of freedom in the U.S. to occur here in Palestine. These traditions prevent us from having the amount of freedom we want. In general Palestine has more freedom than other Arab countries.
By Ahmad

No, I don't think so. But the problem is that we have much less freedom. We don’t have freedom at all here in Palestine; girls of our age are not allowed to do a lot of things, and if she did people are going to start talking about her.
By Kamilia

Freedom is necessary in people’s life, but not too much. If there’s too much freedom people will do whatever they want with nobody to control them. So if there’s too much freedom the country will never succeed and the population will never become a good one.
By Tarik

Yes, I believe people might sometimes be too free in a way that might roughly affect others. Some people around the world are given too much freedom. These people might sometimes even forget they are preventing others from having equal rights. The Muhammad cartoons published by the Danish newspaper are a good example of "too much" freedom. I believe "too much" freedom does exist, but in very small numbers around the world.
By Lena
Freedom is a big word that we hear about. It has several meanings, which are freedom of speech, freedom of acting, freedom of worship, and many other freedoms. Here in Palestine, we have a limited line for freedom; one who crosses that line will be considered a bad person who doesn't respect his traditions. In general implementing, this line is for our benefit, because, it makes our country somehow safe and empty of crimes.
On the contrary, not all social classes here in Palestine have the same freedom, in which some parents allow their children to do whatever they want. Others forbid them to leave the house as a way of protection. This makes freedom here in Palestine limited and hard to accomplish.
By Mona

I don’t quite know because I never tasted my own freedom. There might be such a thing as too much freedom. It might be like spoiling a kid too much. Freedom is the demand for all of the Palestinian community no matter what age they are and "too much freedom," as it's called, can’t be that bad.
By Hikmat

I think that your question should be whether there is freedom or not. A man is either free or not. Freedom of speech, freedom of thought, and freedom of beliefs are rights fought for and gained by the struggle of people all over the world. All of us must unite to unconditionally defend free speech, free thought, and free beliefs.
By Ahmad

In Palestine our freedom is limited. It is not too much or too strict, meaning we have no freedom. People are free to do things up to a limit and they don’t cross this limit. This is due to our culture, the way we were raised, and the way we and our grandparents before us think. This all impacts our freedom of what we can do and what we can't. It’s not like other nations such as the U.S.A., which have such a thing called "too much freedom." Here in Palestine it is different.
By Lina

The U.S. is a liberal and open country. Freedom in the U.S. is, therefore, available. People in the U.S. have freedom of speech and many important freedoms that humans demand. People in the U.S. have the right to practice a lot of freedom which may create different kinds of problems. For instance, family ties are not strong because anyone can walk outside the family circle when they reach the age sixteen. I think that sometimes in the U.S. there is too much freedom. This enables people to commit all sorts of violations which are not accepted in many societies.
By Lana

How much freedom do you believe a country should have compared to how much the United States has?

In our country there is freedom but not so much as the United States. I find the most important freedom that should occur here in Palestine is the freedom of expressing opinions because there are many political parties who prevent you from expressing your opinion freely. I think that having the same amount of freedom here in Palestine that is in the United States is little bit dangerous because it may create many problems between people.
By Waleed

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