Image 1 of 11: The death toll in Gaza has passed over 1000, (77% are civilians, 33% are under age 18). Up to 120,000 people (of approximately 1.8 million) have been displaced. The world is once again turning a blind eye to Israeli aggression, and in some cases, actively supporting it. Why is it that the abused always turn into abusers? Will we make it stop?
Image 1 of 11: Has Algeria’s Eid come crashing down? Shortly after takeoff, an Air Algerie Swiftair MD-83 from Burkina Faso (BF) to Algiers went missing. BF Transport Minister Jean Bertin Ouedragor said the pilot asked to change route due to a storm around 30 minutes after takeoff. It was later confirmed that the plane crashed, killing all 116 people aboard.
Image 1 of 11: Last week in Yemen, 3 civilians and 4 soldiers were killed in clashes between the army and locals when Marib tribesmen blocked engineers from repairing a blown-up oil pipeline. Elsewhere, al-Qaida suspects on a motorbike killed an army officer in Lahij province; a pattern of drive-by shootings which killed dozens of officials in past years.
Image 1 of 11: The death count in Syria’s civil war has passed 170,000; with 700 killed last weekend alone, close to the mounting toll in the current Gaza war. This is not stated to encourage a macabre Atrocity Olympics, but rather to illustrate that each crisis is boiling simultaneously - demanding even news coverage and urgent resolution.
Image 1 of 11: Last week, 20 men in vehicles loaded with machine guns, grenades and RPGs clashed with soldiers at Egypt’s al-Farafra checkpoint, killing 22 border guards (an explosion in the checkpoint’s ammo stores caused most of the casualties). Two booby-trapped attack vehicles abandoned by the attackers were later diffused. Investigations are ongoing.
Image 1 of 11: Boko Haram killed over 80 people on Thursday with 2 suicide bombings in Nigeria - neither hit their targets (ex-president Muhammadu Buhari and moderate cleric Sheikh Dahiru Bauchi). Human Rights Watch set their 2014 killing toll at over 2,000 civilians. Meanwhile, 100 days after Boko Haram kidnapped nearly 300 schoolgirls, they are still missing.
Image 1 of 11: Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, said to be shot down by Russian separatists in Ukraine, killed 298 people. For the Muslim state of Malaysia however, Eid might not be a joyous period. Its champion airline is likely to go bankrupt due to this incident and a previous flight, MH370, which mysteriously disappeared west of Australia on 14 March 2014.
Image 1 of 11: French pro-Palestine protests are becoming violent; and newspaper Le Figaro has described an “explosion” of national violence targeting Jews in a recent story titled “Gaza: war over there, a powder keg here”. (France has Europe’s largest population of Jews and Muslims).
Image 1 of 11: Jihadist terror group ISIS is purging Iraq of its Christians - whose residencies in that country stretch back to the days of Christ. Persecuted in the past but never displaced, Christians were given an ultimatum by ISIS - convert to Islam, pay a religious tax or face execution. Tens of thousands have now fled the country.
Image 1 of 11: In a final speech to his parliamentary deputies before the presidential election (he’s running!), Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan condemned Israel, stating that Turkey will side with Palestine “whatever the cost may be.” Wearing a keffiyeh, he praised all who protest against Israeli aggression. Game on!
Image 1 of 11: Taliban militants kicked off an unprecedented crime spree in the run-up to Pakistan’s air assault on hideouts near Afghanistan, stashing cash for the fight ahead; extortion increased fivefold and Taliban-related kidnappings spiked in Karachi. The cash underwrote high-profile attacks like the June 8 assault on Karachi airport, where 8 people died.
This week is Eid al-Fitr - or Little Eid - an important religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide to mark the end of Ramadan. This annual occasion is a multiple-day affair when people are encouraged to forgive and forget any differences, hurts and misunderstandings that may have occurred during the year. It’s a time for communal unity; what’s not to love about that?
But is open-heartedness on a grand scale possible given the horrific headlines of the past few weeks? Consider the general escalation in terrorism sponsored by the Taliban and al-Qaeda, and add a side of natural disaster. Such events make it hard to harken happy thoughts to celebrate the end of Ramadan.
It's no secret that media preoccupation with violence, danger, sex and conflict can inure us to shocking info and imagery - and mind-blowing atrocities have been happening at an increasing clip. We are reaching a saturation point that can numb human response, but - in times of crisis - inertia is not an option.
The world’s holy men apparently agree.
A senior Iranian cleric has called on Muslim nations to stand up against Israel’s massacre of Palestinians in Gaza. “This great tragedy has hurt the conscience of humanity and Islamic countries claiming to be advocates of human rights must wake up,” said Kazem Seddiqi, according to the Tehran Times.
Yousif Habash, Iraqi-born bishop of the Syriac Catholic Church, implored, "Where is the conscience of the world? Where is the United Nations? Where is the American administration to protect peace and justice?"
Speaking on the 1,500 Christians who have fled Mosul in the wake of ISIS death threats, Chaldean Catholic Bishop Shlemon Warduni said, "The world must act, speak out, consider human rights."
Maybe this Eid-al-Fitr - the “Feast of Breaking the Fast” - can also become the Feast of Breaking the violence because right now, it’s all tears, fears and sadness as many festivities will be cancelled in conflict. What can we do to make a difference? How can we be agents for peace? Write a message, donate time or money. Take positive action in your own way.
From our hearts to the spirit of faith, Eid Mubarak.