A slap in the face

A slap in the face

Even if it is a woman, someone slapping someone else in the face is not a handsome attitude. It’s worse if such a scene takes place in a crowd, consequences might even be very serious. However, yesterday in Istanbul, an Iranian woman was awarded the “Mother of the Year” award by the Maltepe Municipality because she slapped a young boy in the face in a huge crowd gathered to see something awful.

The woman was Samareh Ali Nezhad. Her son was killed by another young man eight years ago, captured and sentenced to death in Iran. According to mass-distributed video footage, Nezhad approached the man at the gallows with the halter around his neck, slapped him in the face and said “This is your punishment” and let him free. Why? She explained that as a mother of a slain boy she could imagine the pain the mother of the other young man would suffer should he be hanged and decided to let him free with a slap in the face as his punishment.

It is not at all easy. Vengeance is a basic criminal instinct of men. Taking revenge is glorified in many cultures. Empathy is difficult. Worse, forgiveness though is often praised, has always been rare. Perhaps that’s why forgiveness is often associated with God; we cannot forgive, let God forgive…

Nezhad was a mother very much like the mother of Berkin Elvan, mature enough to understand that pain is universal and after their lost sons and daughters, all mothers feel the same pain. Even though some people managed empathize with the father of the slain girl at Egypt’s Tahrir Square, but could not understand how painful indeed was the premeditated murder of a son at Istanbul’s Gezi Park, Berkin’s mom, as well as Nezhad, possessed the quality of forgiveness, perhaps because pain made them remember it.

It was not just Nezhad who received the “Mother of the Year” award at the Maltepe Municipality Sunday. All those sacrificing mothers and indeed fathers received the “humanity award” as a demonstration of gratitude they deserved for their fallen sons and daughters in Turkey’s pertinent struggle for democratic governance.

Did we not commemorate only days ago Deniz Gezmiş, Yusuf Aslan and Hüseyin İnan who were murdered in cold blood by the state? Why? Some officious bootlickers believed avenging the death of Premier Adnan Menderes and his two ministers hanged by the previous coup would help settle the account, thus the country. Revanchism is a primitive and indeed very harmful instinct.

The other day, a mother was screaming and demanding Parliament reintroduce the death sentence. The absolute ruler of the country was saying he believed the death sentence should be brought back. Thank God, finally reason prevailed and enforced life term without parole was on even for pedophiliac criminals.

Mothers know it well to deliver life, but cannot accept to take life, even of the one that committed the most heinous crime on their beloved one. That was what Nezhad reminded us and why she was declared the “Woman of the Year.” These lands have suffered a lot from revanchist mentality, vendettas and the “eye for an eye” justice style of understanding. Yet, mothers know well that pain cannot be the answer for pain and when pain starts to flow like a river, there can be no stop to oddities of all kinds. Mothers know it well.

Salute to all mothers!