Global festivities hit

August 04, 2014 - 12:03:51 am

A tumultuous period during the festive season affected celebrations in many countries. 

After the Eid holidays, the Muslim world is going back to business as usual. The private sector has plunged itself headlong into the grind, while government institutions are bracing to reopen services. But was the period, which sees Eid Al Fitr celebrated across vast swathes of the world, a normal one this year? By all accounts, large segments of populations in regions that bask in the lights and glory of the festival were suffering. While they were expected to have a carefree holiday and involve themselves in spiritual practices, they were fending off attacks. 

Hundreds of children — including infants — were killed by Israeli fire in Gaza. As other parts of the world celebrated Eid and revelled in gifts and new attire, scores of Palestinian children’s clothes were soggy with blood from wounds sustained in bombing. Thousands lost their homes, belongings and loved ones in attacks that destroyed entire localities. 

Syria kept burning, with casualties on both sides. Destroyed lives, lost relatives and limbs punctuated the festive season of which there was hardly any in the embattled country. The civil war has reached a point of no return so that even the mention of a ceasefire is preposterous. There were calls for suspension of fighting during Eid in previous years. However, this year there was even no mention of seizing hostilities. It seems Syrians are resigned to their fate. 

The Islamic State kept running its killing machine at full throttle in Iraq and Syria. Bent on getting its so-called caliphate recognised, the militant organisation has made sure those not towing its line of thought are eliminated. It kept killing innocents and defending its actions. 

Thousands of kilometres away in northwestern China’s Xinjiang province, close to 100 people — 37 civilians and 59 militants — were killed on the day of Eid. The province, home to China’s mainly Muslim Uighur minority, has recently seen attacks being mounted on civilians by masked people wielding knives. A separatist insurgency fuelled by alleged religious oppression by the Chinese government often sees clashes between Muslims and Han Chinese in the region. 

Days before Eid, a Malaysian airliner was brought down over Ukraine, killing all 298 on board. Though Kuala Lumpur wanted the bodies home before the festival, the situation in Ukraine hasn’t allowed this till now. 

Back in the Middle East, the situation in Libya worsened with clashes among rival militias leading to high casualties and an exodus of foreign workers in the North African state. Embassies either suspended operations by evacuating staff or scaled down work and cut employee strength. 

It is only coincidence that led to so many unfortunate happenings around the same time. Festivals are events that help bring society together with the help of culture. Let’s hope that nations which suffered will see better times during future festivals•