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Using The Terrorist’s Son in class – written for high school students but applicable to first year seminar classes.

Outline for a Possible Discussion Assignment – one full class session…

Read the book The Terrorist’s Son by Zak Ebrahim. Type your responses to the questions below and we will use them for class discussion.

  1. To what extent do you think Zak’s experiences are unusual and extraordinary, and to what extent are they universal?
  2. Do you relate to anything in his journey?
  3. Zak remembers visiting a shooting range with his father. What impression did this trip have on Zak? How does this scene contribute to the reader’s understanding of Zak’s character and how his beliefs about his father evolved?
  4. Zak says, “the fact that my father went to prison for an unfathomable crime when I was seven just about ruined my life. But it also made my life possible” Explain what Zak means.
  5. It isn’t only terrorists, and certainly isn’t only followers of one particular religion or ideology, who express bigotry. Have you or someone you know experienced bigotry? Explain.
  6. What do the themes in this book lead you to believe about the culture of your home town?
  7. Write a discussion question based on the book that you would pose to the students in the class.
  8. Have you ever had to make a difficult choice? Explain what the choice was about and how you made it.

Outline for a Possible Discussion Assignment – one full class session…

Zak describes how he believes an individual becomes a terrorist: "You find someone vulnerable, someone who’s lost his confidence, his income, his pride, his agency. Someone who feels humiliated by life. And then you isolate him. You fill him with fear and fury, and you see to it that he regards anybody who’s different as a faceless target."

Watch Maajid Nawaz's TED Talk, "A global culture to fight extremism".

  1. How do Nawaz's personal story and his views on the origins of terrorism compare to Zak Ebrahim's? Write your answer in a small essay.
  2. The film Paradise Now which will be shown on September 7 as part of the Common Experience is a story of two Palestinian youths drawn to terrorism. Watch the movie and discuss whether or not you think it reflects Nawaz's and Ebrahim's views of the reasons people may be drawn to extremism. Write your answer in a small essay.
  3. Discuss what leads one to the choice of terrorism.