Sunday, June 28, 2015

Attack on Kuwait: Sad day for my second home

The attack on a Shiite mosque on Friday morning wasn't about attacking Shiites.  It was an attack on Kuwait.  As such, the country has come together within a few short days.

I cried when I saw the photos on Instagram.  I cried when I saw the emotions on HH the Emir's face as he witnessed the destruction.  This isn't about our divisions; it is about our commonality.

I was at the farm, miles away from where it happened.  But, I know the mosque well (Imam Sadiq Mosque).  It is directly behind the building where I worked for 5 years when I first came to Kuwait.  I was new here.  I didn't know much about anything.  But, from my desk, I could hear the beautiful voice of the muezzin, welcoming people to prayer during the day.  I could always hear the emotion in his voice (and could tell when he wasn't feeling his best or had a cold). It was always very soothing; and I was hoping that he wasn't hurt in the blast.

Kuwait is like a small town.  Everybody knows everybody. (And everybody talks - which is probably why they were able to identify some of the suspects so quickly.)  I was immediately certain that I know someone who was directly affected by the attack; who either had a friend or a loved-one who was injured or killed (27 dead, over 200 injured).  I was correct.  Within hours, friends told me that their friends and professors or someone they worked with had died.

The talk at the farm was all about what happened - and my Kuwaiti friends' solidarity with other Kuwaitis (regardless of religious beliefs).  They were talking about their plans to go to a Shiite mosque for the next Friday prayers to show their support.  All of my friends planned to attend the mass funerals yesterday (where thousands of people showed up and stood together in 107 degree temperatures).

Coming back from the farm yesterday (the day after the attack), I completely expected there to be checkpoints around Kuwait. I had my registration and license close at hand.   There were numerous checkpoints during 2003 when American troops were moving into Iraq.  It only makes sense that there would be checkpoints around Kuwait.  But there wasn't even one.  I noticed more police patrol cars on the roads, but no checkpoints.  Maybe we've had a huge leap in technology since 2003 rendering checkpoints fruitless?  I don't know.  I would probably felt much more secure if I had had to drive through one.

Three weeks ago, I had borrowed a friend's truck to go to the beach to take my big dog, beach gear, and other friends.  The transmission gave out along the way and I was able to pull the truck into a parking lot at a mosque where I thought it would be safe to leave until we could get a tow truck.  The police came around approximately five times, asking us to move it.  They were concerned because there had been a terrorist attack at a mosque in Saudi Arabia recently  They were adamant that we move the car, so we did.  I wasn't upset, but perplexed by the hightened security.  How far do precautions go?

I guess now it is the end of innocence at mosques.  I've seen metal detectors being installed.  I hope that the tighter security will continue.  It is necessary I think.

I'm wondering if this is a spark that will unify the country against a common enemy.  I hope that people's eyes have been opened.  This kind of hatred can't be allowed to continue.  We are all ONE Kuwait.

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