WAR THROUGH A CHILD'S EYES; 'I Think of All the Children in Iraq and I Get Sad. Then I Think They'll Be Better off without Him.'

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Byline: MAUREEN MESSENT

WHAT does the threat of war mean to children from all religions as they mingle with friends in the playground? MAUREEN MESSENT visited a city school to discover what 10 and 11-year-olds think of conflict.

A SMALL boy confided his worries to Elizabeth Keene, deputy head teacher of St John & Monica RC Primary School this week.

'Will my family be bombed?' he asked, thinking that a call to warmeant missiles on Moseley. Equally, the impending war with Iraq could have raised illfeeling among this peaceful and friendly school's 216 pupils, 35 per cent of them Muslim.

Instead, because the issue has been well-aired, that hasn't happened.

'We've all spoken to our boys and girls and explained this isn't a religious conflict,' says Mrs Keene. 'And I've been amazed at times at how much they understand.

'I'd expected them to be strongly anti-war - but I was wrong.'

JAIRAAM SINGH: 'I think this war is right now that Saddam Hussain has shown he's not willing to give up his terrible arms.

'He says he's a good Muslim but he doesn't act like one. I think he goes to the mosque but worships just himself. If he had goodness in his heart he would listen to other nations.'

ROSIE O'HALLORAN-MILLAR: 'I don't want a war at all but Saddam has had 12 years nowand he still hasn't got rid of his weapons. He's a bad man who kills his friends and his family if they disagree with him.

'What makes the war better is that the Americans have promised to help Iraqis rebuild after the fighting is over and Saddam has gone.'

DELISSA MULLINGS: 'I'ma bit scared that if all our soldiers are killed, Mr Blair might have to tell our brothers and sisters to go to fight in Iraq. I have a brother of 17 who wants to go to college, not be a soldier. 'If we didn't go to war, we wouldn't be able to help the Iraqi people who lead sad lives, so I suppose we have to fight.' JEEVAN SINGH BAINS: 'If we don't fight, Saddam will say he rules us. He looked strong once but now I think he's weak because strong men don't need to threaten their people. Maybe the Iraqi soldiers will run away because they don't like him either. But this war might make people hate each other for the rest of their lives.'

WAQAR ALI: 'I don't agree with the others. I don't think we should have this war because lots of innocent people will die in Iraq. …