I have since understood the Middle East is where mathematics and astronomy started. Today the world uses Arabic numerals despite the spread of Roman Empire and its civilisation since the middle Ages. The region has been in the middle of religious upheaval for centuries. This it is where Zionism, Christianity and Islam began.
Arabia was the centre of the global oil boom and still supplies a large proportion of crude oil to the rest of the world. I personally believe that east or west, Africa is the middle of the world. When the time comes, Africa will rule the airwaves and global markets when the star in the east will dim.
Meanwhile, the Middle East continues to dominate news and current events. Even elections in the global powerhouse called USA cannot avoid being entangled in the Middle East minestrone a la piripiri as candidate Mitt Romney fired fresh salvos at President Obama.
This region has known conflict for more than two millennia. It is thus surprising to some that media and politicians in the west in recent months are promoting an Arab awakening. Awakening? This region has never fallen asleep. In the 6th century BC, prophet Jeremiah lamented the fall of Jerusalem in which the holy temple was destroyed. Life became harsh for Jews.
Prophet Jeremiah, who is recognized by the three Abrahamic faiths wrote: we have drunk our water for money, our wood is sold to us; our necks are under persecution, we labour and have no rest; we have given the hand to the Egyptians, and the Assyrians, to be satisfied with brother. (Lamentations 5:4-6).
The destruction of the holy temple of Jerusalem is still commemorated today as the saddest day in the Jewish calendar. Syria is ablaze with so much destruction and deaths nobody is keeping an accurate count. Places of worship and dwelling are being destroyed not by invaders but citizens of Syria, probably with significant help from outside Syrian borders. That is history repeating itself.
Prophet Jeremiah also lamented further by saying, they ravished the women of Zion, and the maids in the cities of Judah. That was 2,600 years ago. Are women being treated differently in wars in the last 50 years or so? Those Syrians who have become refugees due to the current fighting must be lamenting the fall of their civilization of many centuries. Kofi Annan, the former UN envoy in Syria talking to BBC said the Syrian war could explode over the borders.
The exodus of civilians and the influx of weapons are already signs of an explosion. Mr Annan does not believe Syria will implode like Libya though. The ghost of Muammar Gaddaffi seems to be haunting Benghazi, of all places. Violent protests over a film mocking Islam turned fatal with the deaths of four Americans including the Ambassador to Libya.
As US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton said, this senseless killing of embassy staff must send shock waves across peace-loving believers of all faiths the world over. It is ironic that it is in Benghazi that the torching of the American consulate with subsequent deaths of Americans occured. America helped the regime in power today in Libya to remove the former regime of Gaddaffi. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you. Will the relationship of Libya and western allies ever be the same after this incident?
It is hard to imagine the fighters who defeated dictator Muammar could not protect the embassy allowing rioters to run amok.
An obscure anti-Muslim film has sparked protests across the Middle East. Yes, the region is in the middle of a crisis and at the moment, Egypt is in the thick of it. Some 224 people were injured in protests in Egypt.
On Friday, Tunis erupted in violence with three people killed and 28 injured after protesters attacked the US embassy, burning cars, storming the complex and replacing the US flag with their own banner. In Yemen, demonstrators stormed the grounds of the US embassy in Sanaa and burned the US flag but were driven back by security forces within a short time. Three people were killed when the US embassy in Khartoum was attacked, according to Sudanese state radio, writes the BBC.
In Lebanon city of Tripoli, protesters set fire to a KFC fast-food restaurant. More protests and damage to property and life are likely over the weekend and beyond. Nigeria, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Indonesia could be next. According to CNN, the mystery director of the anti-Islam film was a Coptic Christian with a criminal record residing in California. He claims to be an Israeli-American real estate developer and his film was financed by Israeli donors.
Why are people giving credence to an obscure film by a man with seven aliases and criminal record? Why punish citizens of America, the land of free speech? Where is the tolerance and love of friend and foe alike that has been preached so much by prophets of all faiths? Perhaps the film is just the match stick that lit the fire of extremists, a fire that may have been simmering for a long time.
Pope Benedict XIV has urged Christians, Jews and Muslims to uproot religious fundamentalism. The Pontiff is in Lebanon for an official visit in which he is scheduled to meet with religious leaders of 19 groups. The man of God understands well the history and geography of religious intolerance and extremism.
Will the Middle East listen to him with an open mind? Meanwhile the Israeli-Palestine conflict rages on. Add the Iranian nuclear saga. Is the world safe from another major war?
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