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Doomsday warnings panic residents

Sajila Saseendran and Ahmed Shaaban / 18 December 2012

DUBAI — An online rumour about a total blackout after the Mayan apocalypse, falsely attributed to Nasa, has gone viral in the UAE with concerns raised about the message that asks people to refrain from travelling this week.

The message being spread on BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), Smartphone messaging services and WhatsApp is one of the many rumours being circulated across the world ahead of December 21, the day the Mayan calendar ends.

The message says Nasa (which has already denied the message and debunked fears surrounding the 2012 doomsday) has predicted a total blackout on Earth from December 22 to 25, during an alignment of the universe.

“If possible, avoid travelling during the 3rd week of December 2012 as all modes of communication may fail. US scientists predict total darkness on planet Earth for 3 days from December 22 onwards. It is not the end of the world; it is just an alignment of the universe, where Sun and Earth will align for the first time. All planets are expected to align in a straight line as a result of which there could be natural calamities on Earth. The earth will shift from the current third dimension to zero dimension, then shift to the fourth dimension. Kindly forward to your near and dear ones,” the message reads.

Nasa has vehemently denied the false reports on its website and said there is no such alignment.

“Some versions of this rumour cite an emergency preparedness message from Nasa Administrator Charles Bolden. This is simply a message encouraging people to be prepared for emergencies, recorded as part of a wider government preparedness campaign. It never mentions a blackout,” the US space agency has said.

Though the D-Day hullabaloo is relatively minor in this part of the world, residents here have circulated the fake warnings, while recipients have raised concerns about the travel warning, as the time frame is a popular travel period due to the festive season and school holidays.

“Even though you don’t believe in apocalypse or anything related to it, it is really scary when you get such messages when you are about to travel with your family,” says mother-of-two Priya Sajesh. “I must admit that it really sparked some sort of tension at the back of my mind as we are heading to India this weekend,” she said.

Meanwhile,  Dubai Police General Department of Criminal Investigation Director Brigadier Khalil Ibrahim Al Mansouri described the messages as “nonsense”. He had previously said police had technology to discover who was behind the propagation of such messages, and would take legal action against those doing so.

Sharjah travel agent Hassan Ahmed said all travel bookings were normal and nobody had canceled their reservations.  

Doomsday rumours 
spread by ‘big 
losers’, says Imam 

Scholars here have denied the end of the world prophecies tied up with the Mayan apocalypse hyped for this week, saying it is a sin to spread them. They have advised the public not to believe, promote or share the rumours being propagated online with the end of the Mayan calendar on December 21.

The Fatwa Section of the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments said the end of the world, the start of the Doomsday, is not known to anyone, including the prophets.

“According to Islam, there are extremely mighty major signs before the Day of Resurrection, and none of these has shown up,” a Mufti with the Authority said.

Islamic researcher Dr Shaikh Mohammed Ashmawy agreed, saying no one had seen the emergence of Dajjal (a false Messiah), Mighty Smoke, the Talking Beast, the rising of the sun in the west, and the descent of Prophet Jesus (PBUH).

“Also, no one has claimed seeing the emergence of Yajuj (Gog) and Majuj (Magog), big landslides in the east, west and Arabian peninsula, and the emergence of a big fire in Yemen driving people away to Levant.”

Grand Mufti of Dubai Dr Ahmed Al Haddad said all the end of the world allegations were groundless or could be easily refuted. “These are just lies we should all refrain from repeating and sharing.”

“Doomsday shall only happen unexpectedly and all of a sudden, and no one knows the exact or precise timing but Almighty Allah, and that is one of the five other things known only to God.”

Elaborating, Dr Haddad added that there are other minor signs that must appear before the end of the world, yet none of these has shown up. “It is a big sin to spread these lies which destabilise the society.”

Imam of Anas bin Malik Masjid Shaikh Noah said such lies related to the end of the world had been spread before. “These lies mostly come from irreligious or atheist people; why do many people believe them?”

“Just ask them about their sources and you shall know the truth; they are big losers interested in terrifying others, and spreading rumours which have nothing to do with science or religion.” 

 Travel havoc rumours spark stir

An apocalyptic rumour warning people not to travel due to the alignment of the universe — which coincides with the end of the Mayan calendar — is causing concern for some UAE residents.

The message, purportedly from the American space agency Nasa, is doing the rounds on phone messaging services across the country. While the popular myth is that December 21, the day the Mayan calendar ends, is Doomsday, the particular message suggests the world will not end but go through a total blackout from December 22 to 25 as a result of an unprecedented planet alignment, wreaking travel havoc.

While Nasa has dismissed the claim, mother-of-two Priya Sajesh said while she did not believe in the apocalypse “or anything related to it”, it was scary as she was about to travel with her family. “I must admit that it really sparked some sort of tension at the back of my mind as we are heading to India this weekend.”

Meanwhile, the Grand Mufti of Dubai, Ahmed Al Haddad, said it was a “big sin” to spread such rumours, which destabilised society. “Doomsday shall only happen unexpectedly and all of a sudden, and no one knows the exact or precise timing but Almighty Allah.”






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