The deadly month of Ramadan: Why have violent attacks increased over the holiest time of year?

Published July 4th, 2016 - 12:23 GMT
Palestinian Muslim worshipers pray outside the Dome of the Rock at the al-Aqsa compound in Jerusalem during the first Friday prayer of the holy month of Ramadan. (AFP/File)
Palestinian Muslim worshipers pray outside the Dome of the Rock at the al-Aqsa compound in Jerusalem during the first Friday prayer of the holy month of Ramadan. (AFP/File)

Ramadan is coming to an end - Islam’s holiest month of the year, but also one that has been eclipsed by a series of deadly attacks taking place across the world. 

The sinister unfolding of events was foreshadowed early this year by a number of jihadi propagandists who announced that Ramadan would be an opportune time to kill people.   

Daesh spokesperson, Abu Mohamed al-Adnani, released a chilling audiotape in May, saying: “Ramadan, the month of conquest and jihad. Get prepared, be ready to make it a month of calamity everywhere for the non-believers, especially for the fighters and supporters of the caliphate in Europe and America."

And when one looks at the bloody events that took place in Orlando, Istanbul, Dhaka, Bangladesh, Baghdad, Malaysia and most recently Jeddah, it is appears many extremists took this note to heart – unleashing chaos and destruction over the last few weeks. 


However, the attacks – many of which have been claimed by Daesh - do not reflect the majority of Muslim sentiment during this time of year. For most, Ramadan is regarded as a time for spiritual renewal, and prayer.

So what has triggered this rise in violent attacks over Ramadan, a month more generally associated with peace and introspection?

A New York Times article attributes the high number of attacks to Daesh’s perversion of the central concept of the holy month, playing on the belief that rewards earned for noble acts are higher over this period. 

“In short: If one believes it is good to kill those who are considered infidels, all the better to do so during Ramadan.”

While not all of them may have been carried out with Ramadan in mind, the last month as seen an exceptionally high number of attacks: 

In Orlando, Omar Mateen claimed allegiance to ISIS during a live call to authorities on June 12, killing 49 people and wounding dozens more.

On June 14, a Frenchman who pledged allegiance to ISIS stabbed a police commander to death outside his home and killed his partner, who also worked for the police.

On June 21, ISIS claimed responsibility for a suicide attack that killed seven members of the Jordanian security forces and wounded 13 others on June 6 at a border crossing with Syria.

The following Monday, on June 27, Daesh affiliated suicide bombers were dispatched to Lebanon’s Christian village of Qaa, killing five people. The same day, suicide bombers killed dozens of civilians in Yemen’s Al Mukalla.

On June 28th, Daesh carried out another large-scale attack at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport, killing at least 45 and wounding dozens others.

In a Malaysian nightclub the same day, a grenade blast wounded eight people at a Malaysian nightclub, in an attack police attributed to Daesh-affiliates. 

Militants also killed 22 people, most of them foreigners at the diplomatic quarter in the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka on July 1.

And on July 3, ISIS once again claimed responsibility for its deadliest attack so far, killing at least 143 people in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad. Later that day, a suicide bomber died after detonating a device near the US consulate in the Saudi city of Jeddah. 

Despite the wide array of attacks that have taken place over the month, it is important to note that they do occur year-round and there is no direct evidence that they become more common during Ramadan.  

What is clear however, is that jihadists' manipulation of the central tenents of Ramadan is deplored by the majority of Muslims and many have taken to social media to express their anger and sadness over the attacks that have taken place in the last month. 


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