Startling new threats to children’s welfare emerge in Silwan | Palestine

Tuesday, 15 March, 2011 | 15:52 Mohammed Ashwah,11.

Mohammed Ashwah,11.

Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) — In a serious development in children’s welfare in Silwan, 11 year old resident Mohammed Ashwah has revealed to Silwanic a new attempt at exploitation of the village’s youth. Mohammad, together with his father Nimer Ashwah, have decided to tell the story in order to alert other children and parents in Silwan and arm them with knowledge of what coersive practices are afoot in the streets of the village.

Mohammed Ashwah told Silwanic that on 25 February 2011, he was approached by an unknown man on the street who attempted to recruit him to the role of informer. Mohammed was returning from the regular Friday prayer in the Al-Bustan protest tent when it happened.

“I was walking home, and as I was on the stairs leading to my house in Baten al-Hawa a stranger stopped me,” said Mohammed. “I had never seen him before. Straight away, he asked me for information about children in my neighborhood who throw stones and I told him I don’t know any of them. I was so scared of this strange man. He asked me questions in broken Arabic, insisting that I tell him about the children who throw stones but I told him again I don’t know any. He then put his hand in his pocket and pulled out 200 shekels ($US55) and told me that I must meet with him next Friday to give him information on the children. Then he pulled out a knife and told me that if I tell anyone about this he would take me to court and make sure I was imprisoned.”
Mohammed told Silwanic that the man then got in to a white car, saying to the driver in Arabic “come on, Ahmed.” He said that he ran home, 200 shekels in hand, afraid to tell his parents of what had happened. The next day he told his father the full story.

Says Nimer, “I cannot believe that the exploitation of children in Silwan has reached such heights. Since Mohammed told me about the incident I feel that I must accompany him to school and back, he is fearful of being caught alone in the street again. The school had to become involved as well, letting me know about the movements of my son.”
A friend of the Ashwah family, who wished to remain unnamed, told Silwanic that Mohammed and his father’s efforts to come forward and alert the community must be applauded. “They are exposing a truth that may have been difficult for other children. Knowledge is the first step to tackling such terrible problems.”

The Father, Nimer Ashwah.

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