Tuesday, February 26, 2008

"Come into my tent".

A suicide bomber detonated an explosive belt in a tent filled with Shia pilgrims walking to one of their holiest shrines south of Baghdad, killing at least 40 of them and wounding 60. People taking part in the traditional Arbain procession to Kerbala, commemorating the 40th day of mourning after the martyrdom of Imam Hussein in AD680, had stopped at a refreshment tent near the town of Iskandariyah 30 miles south of Baghdad. As the pilgrims ate and drank a bomb exploded, spraying metal ball bearings in all directions.

"When we reached the area people invited us into a tent to take some rest and have some food," said Um Hamr, a woman injured by the blast. "When we entered, there was a huge ball of fire and we saw people lying on the ground."

A local official Saleh al-Massoudi said: "The blast devastated the entire tent, which was about 20 metres long and four metres wide."

...When I read the above it really shocked me. When I am on holiday I am used to hearing the cry of "come into my shop" being made my way by shop keepers eager for custom. It has become a catchphrase that I use with friends, family and workmates. This welcome is well known throughout the world and people enter on trust. People in Middle Eastern countries are well known for being hospitable and offering refreshments to strangers. As a tourist you are very often offered refreshments in shops, it is part of their culture.

To guide these pilgrims into a tent for refreshments and then have the tragedy of a suicide bombing shocks me to the bone. Whether the terrorists set this tent up to lure in the pilgrims like lambs to the slaughter we may never know. The suicide bomber may just have viewed the tent as a good net in which to harvest his slaughter.

Muslims claim that they have a holy war - jihad - against non believers. However, Muslims can and do fight amongst themselves, over something that happened over 1,300 years ago when their religion split into the Shia and Sunni sects. Who are the good guys? Neither of them, they both live and die by the sword. They have grown up with this culture and I do not think they are capable of moving on from this "you started it first" mentality.
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