ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday April 13, 2008
Vol. 42 - No 46

Hot Seat

By Namali Premawardhana and Dinidu de Alwis

The Hot Seat is a monthly column that focuses on young people of our time. It attempts to feature and profile people in a way that has not been done before. The questions are personal, direct, timely and sometimes invasive. The first person to come under fire at The Hot Seat was the current District Interact Representative, Zahrah Cader.

Q: Zahrah Cader is almost a synonym for Interact. So let's start there: There is a perception that Interact is an organization that is based on flirting, and not actual social work.

Zahrah: [Laughs loudly] I've heard that – the boy-meets-girl club. But here's the thing. I wrote an article for the recent Interact District Magazine, and the precise topic was "Is Interact a Boy-meets-girl club?" I went through the different angles of it, two or three pages of different aspects, and I came down to the conclusion that, the chances of you meeting someone of the opposite sex in Interact, is similar to the chances of you meeting someone in the bus, or stepping out of the school, or whatever it is. What's wrong with meeting someone from the opposite sex?

Interact is based on community service, and I'm very proud of what the club has achieved this year. For example, take our Make a Wish Campaign. We're trying to grant the wishes of two hundred kids who lost their parents, because they [Parents] fought for the country.

Q: Define fought for the country?

Zahrah: Been in the armed forces, the Army, the Navy and the Air Force.

Q: Is the LTTE not fighting for their country?

Zahrah: The LTTE is fighting for Our country. Fighting to get hold of our country.

Q: In your opinion, were Tamil people oppressed at any time in the history of Sri Lanka?

Zahrah: I believe they were. I believe they have been oppressed, but I don't necessarily believe war is the way to resolve this.

Q: Do you believe the LTTE is a terrorist organization or an organization fighting for freedom?

Zahrah: One man's freedom fighter is another man's terrorist.

Q: Taking the topic of violence a bit further, do you think right now, Islam promotes violence?

Zahrah: No.

Q: So direct verses from the Quran as being quoted in Fitna does not promote violence at all?

Zahrah: The Quran does not promote violence. But the Quran has said that you are supposed to fight for your religion – it's called Jihad. I mean, whether it's in your heart, or whether you actually speak out about it. It never promotes violence.

Q: Have you read the Quran? In Arabic or English?

Zahrah: Yes. In Arabic the whole thing, because you have to, and in English I read bits and pieces, here and there.

Q: Changing topic, do you annoy people?

Zahra: Yeah, definitely!

Q: What do you do when other people annoy you?

Zahrah: I hate going at the wrong person. I don't scream at people, especially if they are working under me. But if it's the last day they're working under me, I'll go all out and give them the works.

Q: Why not before?

Zarah: Because, they need to work under me for the rest of the term.

Q: So you're okay with screaming at them on the last day, because they're not going to work for you after that? Is that it?

Zahrah: Because then, they don't need to respect me.

Q: Do they need to respect you just because they work under you?

Zahrah: I think it's important to have respect for me for them to work under me. If they don't respect you, they don't work for you. You need to earn people's respect, no matter what.

Q: Do you think you're a little too prepared for questions? You've got quotes for everything.

Zahrah: No. I read a lot, and I am a debater. I make a lot of speeches. In the capacity of DIR, I think I've made the equivalent to about a speech a day throughout my whole term. I think thanks to all the reading, I know a lot. I analyze a lot – I've been told so by others. I analyze a lot of things. I have theories that people can't get in the way of.

Q: Zahrah, Some people think you are full of yourself. What do you think about that?

Zahrah: Full of myself? Maybe I am. I would never know.

Want us to bring someone to The Hot Seat? Let us know at

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