Opinion and Editorial

Eid thoughts this year

Filed on October 13, 2007

MUSLIM scholars’ prayer for peace epitomises the collective mood in the Muslim world as the faithful celebrate the end of the holy month and coming of Eid holidays. Indeed, there is much of serious concern brewing in much of the Muslim heartland.

Iraq is, of course, the biggest worry. The sorry situation there comes across as a dagger driven right through the heart of the wider Muslim world. Occupying forces and Baghdad’s central government are equally clueless about reducing the violence. Death squads, sectarian militias and heartless insurgents kill and maim at will. Much of the country has survived the gruelling desert summer with only a couple of hours of running water and electricity every day.

Furthermore, the crisis has given birth to an uncontrollable refugee crisis, which is putting unbearable strain on resources of neighbouring countries already struggling with problems of their own. Then there are medical troubles. As seen with the cholera outbreak recently, the refugee and homeless community is in no way prepared to deal with epidemics and medical emergencies stemming from poor living conditions. And Iraqis harbour, with good reason, no hopes of things improving.

Beyond Iraq, Palestinians continue to endure oppression, but now not only because of the unforgiving occupation, but also owing to their own supposed protectors’ excesses as the Fatah-Hamas feud brought civil war to a people already suffering their worst humanitarian crisis in half-a-century. Lebanon, once the Switzerland of the Levant, faces political limbo and continuously borders on civil war as its bickering ethnic makeup has failed to materialise an enduring truce, much less maintain parliamentary sanctity.

Meanwhile, Iran’s unending nuclear standoff with the West and Syria’s growing agitation with Israel keep hair on end in an already volatile region. Pakistan, once the ideological ‘fortress of Islam’ and the only Muslim nuclear power, degenerates into farcical democracy and one-man power-play as West-dependant Islamabad’s policies not only fail to curb the terrorism menace, but also alienate increasing sections of the population with every passing moment.

Turkey’s example provides hope of political maturity and meaningful integration with the outside world, but Malaysia is a case in point of a sensible lot again giving in to extremist tendencies.

With an opportunity of thanksgiving, Eid also brings moments of reflection. No doubt Muslim representatives face an urgent moment of reckoning. The persistent logjam afflicting the Muslim world needs breaking. Reliance on foreign forces has seen them end up serving only others’ interests. It is time to rise and be recognised. But that will need inspiring leadership and committed masses.

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