Random posts on all sorts of things designed to inform and provoke.
There was an interesting story in the Pakistani English newspaper, The Dawn, the other day about Syrian Hajj pilgrims protesting against Bashar al-Assad while hurling pebbles at the Satan pillars. Using a loudhailer, these pilgrims asked Allah to make sure Assad suffers the same fate as the late M. Qadhafi – using a loudhailer doesn’t make sense to me since to my knowledge Allah isn’t deaf but that is a topic for another post. There is probably no one, at least no one who doesn’t belong to Assad’s team or is a Russian, that does not feel the same way about Assad as these Haaj protestors. So, its understandable that these folks would pray for Assad’s demise. However, the question for today’s readers is whether the Haaj is the proper venue for these kind of protests.
Prior to the start of this year’s annual pilgrimage, the Saudi government had warned everyone – partciularly Iranians – that any protests related to the ongoing developments in the region would not be tolerated and, as any Saudi watcher will tell you, the Saudis know how to not tolerate things. On top of this mandate, I am pretty confident that any protests against the Saudi royal family or those in support of the Shia in the Eastern Provinces would not have been tolerated either. So, the fact that protests against the Syrian government were allowed – even for a limited time – is clearly because Riyadh does not support the Assad regime. In addition, its not like the Haaj has been free of protests; indeed, there are protests at the Haaj every year but mostly they are about things like evil in the world and women getting too many rights (the second is probably more of an under the breath protest since there are women all over the place in Mecca).
So, is the Haaj the proper venue for these kind of protests or rather any kind of protests? Is the Haaj only supposed to show a Muslim’s submission to Allah and, by everyone coming together, solidarity with the Muslim world or is it also about protesting against perceived injustices. If you allow that then who is to decide which injustice is an injustice and which is a justice? Since Mecca is supposed to be a place for all Muslims, not just Saudis, to express their faith and concerns, wouldn’t this start a chain reaction where one day you may have protests against the unIslamic nature of Malaysian cookie? Obviously, I’m exagerrating but the point is quite legitimate – in a place that is open to and for all Muslims from all cultures, how can one nation set rules against what people are allowed to say and what they aren’t. In a scenario such as this, it makes sense to ban all protests and treat everyone equally unfairly.