Friday, January 13, 2006

Curious reaction to Haj disaster

There was very little coverage in the media of the disaster at the Haj in Mecca yesterday when 345 pilgrims were crushed to death during the traditional stoning ceremony. I would have thought this would be a mega-news item, but I guess it's not, partly because such disasters happen with frightening regularity at the Haj (1500 killed in a similar stampede a few years ago and 65 already killed last week when one of the hostels collapsed). You would have thought that the media would be interested in the Saudi authorities' perennial incompetence in handling the crowds - it's not as if they are not expected. It is interesting to compare it with the media's hyterical reaction to American incompetence in handling the natural disaster at New Orleans. It's not as if Saudi is a poor country is it? And can you imagine the villification that Israel would receive if a single Chrisitian or Muslim pilgrim died in Jerusalem as a result of negligent crowd control and infrastructure?

But what is even more curious than all of that is the Muslim reaction to the disaster. I heard an interview on LBC News with a Muslim cleric from a London mosque (did not catch the details) and what he was saying was that it was actually a wonderful way for these people to die because they were performing Haj and they were martyrs. He was positively beaming about the whole thing. This reminded me of seeing senior Muslims being interviewed after previous Haj disasters and they too were beaming about it making the same comments about martyrdom. No doubt somebody like Al Qaradawi will soon be pronouncing that the only form of martyrdom greater than being crushed to death at the Haj is that of a suicide bomber killing Israeli civilians.

I then heard today that senior Imams in Mecca were actually telling pilgrims (against their Government's advice because they feared an inevitable crush) that they all had to attend the stoning at a particular time. The fact that within less than an hour of the disaster the stoning carried on as normal also seems to confirm just what an incredible death cult Islam is. And when you couple it with things like this it is truly chilling that the West still doesn't take the Islamic jihad threat seriously.

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