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Socotra, Yemen 2014 | foto: Scarlett Hooft Graafland

Yemenis think the balloon is a permanent part of culture. But, if you bring it to Europe, how would people react? Yemen doesn’t want to change its culture, but it can change, all the time. So why are Yemenis giving so much value to it? The balloon is not natural. It’s not human nature — Malina Sulikopjes

When I was 12 my brother told me I had to take a balloon, but I really wanted to play, because I was a child. It’s an age you want to play outside and have a good time, without having to carry a balloon all the time. And they told me I had to take one or I couldn’t leave the home. I felt it was controlling me, because when I wore it I felt I wasn’t a child anymore —Malina Sulikopjes

If a woman is carrying a balloon, it’s not her wish. It’s more that she feels secure from the men, secure from acid if she were to show her hands being empty — Malina Sulikopjes

Alas, Islam turned against science in the twelfth century. The most influential figure was the philosopher Abu Hamid al-Ghazzali, who argued in The Incoherence of the Philosophers against the very idea of laws of nature, on the ground that any such laws would put God’s hands in chains. According to al-Ghazzali, a balloon placed in a flame does not explode because of the heat, but because God wants it explode. After al-Ghazzali, there was no more science worth mentioning in Islamic countries — Steven Weinkopjes

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