Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Kids say the funniest things | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan

I recently read a pleasant news item about an eight-year-old girl, Hala Hancerkiran, interviewing Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

According to the news report, Hala had travelled to the Turkish parliament’s headquarters accompanied by her father.

Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister and chief of the country’s ruling party, noticed the young girl-sporting pig-tails and glasses-in the backstage area prior to the start of the Justice and Development party’s meeting. Erdogan reportedly told her “I have a granddaughter your age. . .do you know my name?” The little girl answered, whispering his name in his ear, adding that she had come to Turkey’s parliament to complete her homework and interview a politician.

Whether this cheerful little girl awoke Erdogan’s paternal instincts or his political instincts for a good story, he promised to give her an interview following the end of his parliamentary meeting.

This is in fact truly what happened following Erdogan’s political meeting, which—no doubt—is truly boring and depressing work, full of everything that is annoying in life.

Erdogan met with Hala who questioned him enthusiastically, whilst he indulgently and affectionately listened and answered. Writing slowly in her notebook, Hala asked the Turkish prime minister: how do you remain so active? How do you find time for your children? How did you feel about being prime minister? She perhaps asked other questions that did not reach the media, for children do not know when to stop, or what questions are impolite. Children do not distinguish between politicians and circus-performers; indeed they may find a circus-performer more lovable! It crossed my mind that it would be a good idea for every politician, statesman, or public figure-including television preachers, social theorists, businessmen, and scholars-to conduct an impromptu interview with a young child in front of a live audience. This would represent a test of honesty and spontaneity conducted by a young child who does not know how to “play the game”, either by playing on the ego of the interviewee or otherwise acting as an adult would.

Children only know how to play on the playground where they are sincerely and genuinely consumed by “the moment” and their toys and games. Children are always truthful and never false; they do not lie or deceive, their questions are spontaneous and not subject to any filtering process or restrictions.

Therefore, adults have no right to suppress children’s inquisitive natures and destroy their love of asking questions.

Imagine if Arab celebrities had to pass this exam, how many of these celebrities would fail this test of truthfulness and credibility.

I will not name a candidate for this treatment at this juncture but leave this to your imagination. I’m certain that there will be countless proposals in view of each lie or falsehood that we are forced to stomach on a daily basis in the Arab world, particularly regarding what we see on our satellite television channels every day and every night.

Therefore, children …please judge us!