Violence in measured doses

Updated 17 May 2015

Violence in measured doses

Nature’s assault on Nepal and the realization that science has no empirical capability for predicting earthquakes is, by far, the planet’s biggest fear. There has always been that vague belief that seismography is highly advanced but clearly it is a misplaced faith. Not all the terrorists in the world can wreak the havoc that one 40-second spike on the Richter scale can achieve…and we are helpless in the face of it.

The rumblings between Israel and Palestine have begun again following the papal benediction for the recognition of the Palestinian state. How many more years will this impasse continue.

The tension in Syria continues to build and the killing of a top IS leader by US troops will only escalate the violence. There is no end in sight for this war torn nation and no effort to find a solution.

Unease takes an upward turn after former Egyptian President Mursi is given the death sentence. Even though he can appeal, the brotherhood party has begun rattling its sabres and another convulsion could well be on the cards. Egypt, by its very size and position, sends aftershocks to the region and what happens there is seldom in isolation. The murder of two judges immediately after is an unhappy portent of the future.

Asian states toy with immigrants and boat people and the current load of civilians refugees from Myanmar being shunted away from Thailand and then given the heave-ho by Malaysia and stuck on the high seas form a humanitarian problem that will only increase. No one wants the wretched and the poor.

The much hoped for 5-day truce in Yemen faltered and failed to either get warring factions to the negotiating table for a more durable peace or sufficiently manage to get aid and food to the afflicted. With the technical end of that break in hostilities the echo of the gun will increase.

The era of the individual terrorist whether it is for ten minutes of sour fame or part of a larger agenda is not likely to be impacted upon by the death sentence given to the Boston Marathon bomber. The prolonged appeals system in the States actually ends up romanticizing the killer and giving other demented individuals ideas. Being on death row for the next two decades is scarcely a deterrent. Ask the victims of the 12-year-old suicide bomber in Nigeria earlier this week.

Violence in Pakistan continues to slip off the pages with little reverence. The cold-blooded killings of 44 people aboard a bus are one more sordid link in the ongoing bloodspills and the presence of two IS leaders in Peshawar only makes it more worrisome.

Not that much of the world cares but the coup in Burundi earlier this week adds to the current destabilization in Africa. Fighting is intense and casualties are rising and even as news comes in that the military general who led the coup uprising has failed to dislodge President Nkurunziza the reprisals should form a backdrop for more divisiveness in the coming days.

And on a brighter note but still underscoring the multiple and random attacks on women and their exploitation globally the UN has called for a united effort to stop the foul play. From Nov. 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to Dec. 10, Human Rights Day, the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign is a time to galvanize action to end violence against women and girls.

The statistics of Project Orange are scary:
• 35% of women and girls globally experience some manner of physical and or sexual violence in their lifetime with up to seven in ten women facing this abuse in some countries.

• It is estimated that up to 30 million girls under the age of 15 remain vulnerable and more than 130 million girls and women are forced into marriage.

• Worldwide, more than 700 million women alive today were married as children, 250 million of whom were married before the age of 15. Girls who marry before the age of 18 are less likely to complete their education and more likely to experience domestic violence and complications in childbirth.


Muslims in Italy follow rules while celebrating Eid Al-Fitr

Updated 54 min 14 sec ago

Muslims in Italy follow rules while celebrating Eid Al-Fitr

  • Italian media reported that Muslims gathered to perform Eid prayers in compliance with anti-coronavirus measures

ROME: Italy’s Muslims gathered in parks and public squares to celebrate the end of Ramadan, as many of the country’s mosques remained shut because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Islamic places of worship have been going slow on welcoming back congregations, despite an easing of a months-long lockdown, in order to guarantee social distancing and other preventive steps required under an agreement between Muslim communities and the government.

Mosques and prayer rooms will have to respect the same strict rules which have been imposed on Catholic churches. Halls will have to be sanitized before and after every prayer and a maximum of 200 people will be allowed, even in the biggest places of worship. For outdoor prayers a limit of 1,000 people has been set and each worshipper must be spaced at least one meter apart from the next. Those with a temperature above 37.5 degrees cannot enter.

Italian media reported that Muslims gathered to perform Eid prayers in compliance with anti-coronavirus measures.

“Happy Eid Al-Fitr to all Muslims in Italy as they have two reasons to celebrate,” Yassine Lafram, president of the Union of Islamic Communities in Italy (UCOII), said in a message. 

“This is not the only festivity closing the holy month of Ramadan, it matters even more to us all this year in Italy as it finally marks the return of our faithful to the mosque after several months of lockdown due to coronavirus. The Muslim faithful all over Italy now pray to God to accept the fasts, prayers and every good deed carried out during this holy  month and bring peace and blessing to our homes, so that phase two in the fight against COVID-19 in Italy will start in the best way possible.”

Many Muslims celebrated Eid at home with immediate family members. Those who decided to meet and pray together outside their households did it while “strictly respecting” health protocols and social distancing to avoid risk of infection, UCOII said. The organization asked people to display the same “utmost prudence and responsibility” when entering every place of worship from now on.

At Milan’s Al-Wahid Mosque Imam Yahya Sergio Pallavicini set up spacing for 140 new prayer mats. There are different entry and exit points for men and women, along with dedicated courtyards. 

Sanitization is carried out regularly while detergents, disinfecting gel and personal protective equipment are being offered by city authorities. “We pray for the inner and outer health of believers and Italian people,” Pallavicini said at the start of Eid prayers.

Almost 200 people gathered to pray in Rome’s Piazza Vittorio Emanuele. Muslims arranged their prayer mats and moved about in line with social distancing rules. Posters in Italian and Arabic told people that hugging was not allowed. 

“Even if we are in an outside space, nobody has to get too close,” the imam told his flock before prayers commenced. “It is mandatory and for the sake of everyone’s health.” There were children in the congregation too, and everyone wore face masks.

“I am so happy that I am finally meeting my friends for this prayer, but we have to stay apart,” 13-year-old Samir told Arab News. “We will have time to embrace, to play together in the future, when the virus will be gone.” He said he had missed going to his mosque, near Furio Camillo station, during the lockdown. 

“I prayed with my father, of course we were following prayers on YouTube and on Facebook. But it was not the same. Here I really feel part of a group sharing a faith. And it is great to be together again,” he added.

In Piazza Re di Roma, in the southern part of the city center, 250 Muslims gathered to pray. “We just prayed together, and stayed in the square for an hour only,” 31-year-old Latif told Arab News. “The celebration will be with our families later on.”

An outdoor celebration took place in the Sicilian capital Palermo with Mayor Leoluca Orlando also joining in. “We are happy for this celebration which marks another sign of the return to normality of our communities,” he told Arab News. “Being able to pray together is one of the most important needs for a religion as that improves the sense of community. Now we can do it again together: and that’s a great sign not only for the Muslim community but for the entire population of Palermo.”