My Iraqi colleague Abdul Hussein Toameh wrote an article under the above title, another colleague Mohammad Al-Hashemi also wrote on the same subject and I will deal with both articles with some changes and addition.
Toahmeh says that popular protests that took place in Iraq started in Najaf due to poor living conditions and the city’s lack of the most basics amenities to live a decent life.
In contrast, millions of dollars are being wasted on the holy shrines, rituals and religious events in the major cities of Iraq at a time the Ministry of Human Rights says there are more than six million Iraqis living under the poverty line.
Abundant wonderful services are available inside the shrines which are visited annually by millions of pilgrims while at the same time millions of people outside the shrines suffer due to lack or no water, no electricity, no health, no education, no agriculture, and no industry.
How can we accept to see scores of poor Iraqis– children, old men and women wearing shabby clothes seeking financial assistance – outside these shrines in total humiliation? Strange enough, those who go to these places are suffering from some kind of disease but fail to notice that those who are in charge of the places are frequenting major capitals of the world looking for better medical treatment abroad.
As for Mohammad Al-Hashemi who is transparent speaking of Iraq says since the fall of Saddam in 2003 and the arrival of the current political class of government, has been classified by the Fund for Peace and Development as a failed state after the main goal of the new leadership focused on performing rituals in total exaggeration which includes a lot of inciting sentiments.
A country with 140 billion barrels of oil reserves, the UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos says there are at least two million Iraqis deprived of food and another four million suffer from food insecurity, and that one in four Iraqi children suffers from the cessation of physical and intellectual development due to chronic undernourishment, Al-Hashemi added.
In the province of Basra, where the bulk of the oil reserves are concentrated, Iraq’s artery in terms of oil and food wealth and fertile Mesopotamia plains, the main center for rice, barley and wheat is suffering from deteriorating health care, malnutrition and structural collapse – infrastructure for health facilities.
According to the UNICEF report, the water and sanitation network is in very poor, causing the spread of epidemics and infectious diseases transmitted through water, and the high rate of typhoid, cholera and malaria. Dr Wadhah Hamed, director of the Iraqi AIDS Research Center said 73 percent of AIDS infections originated from blood-borne transfusions because of poor health-care measures in Iraqi hospitals.
What is happening in Iraq happens in many Arab, South American, African and Asian countries. What is spent on the preservation, care, maintenance, securing and construction of the holy places in Thailand and India, for example, cannot be compared to the tragic situation of the inhabitants of the same areas. But what is there to do if there are those who insist on veneration of the dead and contempt for the living? A religious friend asks: Why are we keen to build the most mega and luxurious mosques if we are not keen to eliminate the phenomenon of poverty and begging for alms?
By Ahmad Al-Sarraf
e-mail: habibi.enta1@gmail .com