May 18, 2007 10:45 AM   Subscribe

Bombs exploded outside the Mecca Masjid today as people were offering their Friday Prayers. Out of the more than 8,000 worshippers present, a total of 12 have been reported dead, and 50 injured. Also, this comes in the wake of the violence that has been taking place in the State of Punjab.
posted by hadjiboy (34 comments total)
posted by pax digita at 10:47 AM on May 18, 2007

for a moment, I was thinking back to the attempted coup at Mecca in 1979, but then realized this was in India. I wish you had said this was in India in the first sentence, it makes it clearer.
posted by parmanparman at 11:02 AM on May 18, 2007

posted by chunking express at 11:09 AM on May 18, 2007

Man, this sucks.

I can't find anything showing on TV, they're still following up the stupid kissing furore. WTF?

hadjiboy: Are you aware of any Indian blog covering this? (Like Mumbaihelp?)
posted by stumbling at 11:10 AM on May 18, 2007

Union Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta said in Delhi the blast appeared to have a terror link while the Chief Minister said it was an act of "intentional sabotage" by anti-social elements opposed to communal amity.

Can't it be both? Intentional sabotage with the intent of killing many through the use of explosives is a pretty good definition of the tactic called terrorism.
posted by quin at 11:13 AM on May 18, 2007

I wish you had said this was in India in the first sentence

Jeez, I can imagine the horror of that happeneing. My apologies. Maybe cortex or Matt or Jess can put an "(India)" beside the Mecca Masjid. Honestly, I didn't think anyone would go there--that's just too far out, ya know.

Plus, I'm so used to referring to the mosque at Mecca as the "Haram Shareef", it didn't even register.
posted by hadjiboy at 11:16 AM on May 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

stumbling: Sepia Mutiny is always good.

Can't it be both?

What I took from the press conference was that the Union Minister was hinting at something from across the border, whereas the Chief Minister was maybe alluding to something more local.
posted by hadjiboy at 11:22 AM on May 18, 2007

In hadjiboy's defense, he did write 'today.' That being said, this is terrible news.
posted by NationalKato at 11:22 AM on May 18, 2007

hadjiboy: Ah, of course. Thanks.

Subsequent rioting has resulted in some casualities too, it appears. (Reuters India).

Also, The Hindu:
The blast immediately sparked violence by groups of angry people, who targeted shops, petrol pumps and business outlets in the Charminar area. Police opened fire and claimed later they only used rubber bullets, dismissing reports that they had used live ammunition that could kill people.

State Home Minister K Jana Reddy was prevented from entering the mosque by a crowd that shut its huge green wooden doors in his face. Only after some persuasion by him and officials was he allowed to make an on-the-spot inspection.
I hope this doesn't turn into some kind of ugly communal mess..
posted by stumbling at 11:41 AM on May 18, 2007

This is horrible.

Just earlier today I read an article on tnr.com about Shiv Sena, a hardcore hindu nationalist party that rules in Mumbai.

All this is scary.
posted by Kattullus at 12:18 PM on May 18, 2007

posted by languagehat at 12:19 PM on May 18, 2007

As others said, it would be helpful (and less confusing) if Mecca Masjid was identified as being in Hyderabad, India - my first assumption was that this was THE Mecca, in Saudi Arabia.

The location doesn't make it any less horrible, though.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:22 PM on May 18, 2007

posted by madamjujujive at 12:33 PM on May 18, 2007

the Union Minister was hinting at something from across the border, whereas the Chief Minister was maybe alluding to something more local.

Thanks hadjiboy, that makes more sense. I was really saddened to see this part:

while there was confusion whether the other three succumbed to injuries or in subsequent police firing on people protesting in the aftermath of the explosion.

Nothing makes a bad situation worse than the authorities firing into a crowd.
posted by quin at 12:40 PM on May 18, 2007

Also, hadjiboy, could you please post the current Reuters white people:brown people conversion factor so I can more accurately meter my outrage. Thx. CBC.ca would currently rather throw to a report on handbooks.
posted by jimmythefish at 1:02 PM on May 18, 2007

posted by mike3k at 2:36 PM on May 18, 2007

posted by perilous at 3:13 PM on May 18, 2007

I do wonder who on earth would want to create outrage between hindus and muslims yet again? ...

*deep sigh*

may they rest in peace
posted by infini at 6:46 PM on May 18, 2007

posted by MissNefertiti at 7:33 PM on May 18, 2007

Apparently, a TV crew was shooting for a history documentary inside the Mecca Masjid just as the bomb went off, thus providing this footage.

To give a quick translation, the bomb went off during the usual Friday prayers, chaos ensued, some rioting, and the nearby public hospital, Osmania General Hospital, was overwhelmed with the injured, to the point where they had to place two patients on one bed in some cases.

Gory, and sad. And completely at odds with Hyderabad's rich, colourful, vibrant, liberal and multicultural urban history that I take delight in, and am proud of. (Which is not to say this is an inter-ethnic conflagration yet, of course, we still don't know who planted those bombs, or even why)

Mecca Masjid is the biggest and grandest of all mosques in Hyderabad; reputedly, praying there during Eid-ul-Fitr would be equivalent to performing a Hajj. If I remember correctly, the reason it was called Mecca Masjid was because it was built with some material brought from Mecca itself.

A colourful aside, but legend also had it that any ruler who would complete the building of the mosque would see ruin to his dynasty. Tanae Shah was the first ruler to disregard the curse, and he was the last of the glorious Qutb Shahis, the dynasty who first established Hyderabad and ruled the Deccan for 171 years. He was defeated by the Mughal emperor Aurangazeb, who, seeing an unfinished mosque, went to complete its construction. We all know what happened to Aurangzeb, don't we.

Not to toot my own horn, but the place roughly looked like this on an idyllic November evening last year.

There was no security check (link will expire in a day) apparently at the entrance for the first time in many months.

The bomb was triggered off by a cellphone and is being seen as a part of a bigger chain of bomb-blasts being set off in mosques across India, in Jama Masjid, Malegaon and so on.
posted by the cydonian at 8:47 PM on May 18, 2007

That’s a beautiful shot, cydonian.

I can’t access the YouTube link; it’s giving me a “the url contained a malformed video id” error.
There was a Camera Crew who were inside the Mosque when the bombs went off, and they actually caught one of the explosions on tape—a loud blast erupting in the background of the mosque, where worshippers had just finished their prayers, and were saying their thanks to god—when the blast occurred. The birds (pigeons) were the first things to scatter, flying away from the bomb site, and after a second or two of not realizing what had just occurred, people started to run for the exits. In the Video Clip, they also showed a part of the explosive flying over to another part of the parishioners. Luckily, it didn’t hit anyone.
The rioting that happened afterwards was due to the negligence of the police to do anything to stop the blasts from occurring, as there was a suspicion that something ghastly might happen.
posted by hadjiboy at 10:35 PM on May 18, 2007

Okay this is just motherfucking stupid.

Samuel L. Jackson wants these mother fucking terrorists off his mother fucking plane of reality.

There's some old adage that says something like this: insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

Terrorist dude is unhappy about something in society. He gets a bomb and blows up a building with people in it. First off how'd he come to this conclusion?


Congratulations, terrorist dude. You're a mother fucking idiot.

Blow up something. You get a big gaping hole where there used to be something constructive. I dunno but if I purposefully shot myself in the left foot, chances are the pain coupled with the lack of a foot would cause me to rethink the original plan of shooting off all of my limbs. No matter how determined I was when I started, I'm pretty sure after the first time I blew off a body part I'd be like maybe this isn't such a great idea.

I just don't understand the motivation here. Blowing up people doesn't help anyone. So why do it? Why do something when you get nothing out of it?

What are they possibly getting out of all this bombing terrorist bullshit? They must be getting something out of doing this but for the life of me I can't figure out what is driving this.

Religious fervor? Oil? Land? Peer pressure? Inbreeding? Doing it for kicks? Doing it cuz chicks dig it?

Nothing adds up to "blow up people repeatedly and eventually we'll see a positive productive result." Cuz you don't. Nothing good comes out of this for anybody.
posted by ZachsMind at 11:38 PM on May 18, 2007

Maybe someone can clear this up for me: Why Hyderabad? It's not as if the city is located in a disputed area. True there have been disturbances before but this is on a completely different scale. Also this seems to be muslim on muslim violence.; and now ownership of a SIM card used as a detonator has supposedly been identified.
I hope no one you know was injured, hadjiboy. Can any one please indicate to me the political leanings of the various Indian papers. Its's always good to know in what direction the spin will be.
posted by adamvasco at 2:14 AM on May 19, 2007

Here’s what the Deccan Chronicle (our local paper) had to say:

The blast comes just ahead of a congregation planned here by the Tablighi Jamaat, a Muslim organisation known for its religious conversions around the globe. This is the third time where a bomb explosion has occurred around the time of a Tablighi congregation.

A low-intensity blast occurred in a mosque in Guntur on May 27, 2000, on the eve of a Tablighi conference, injuring about half a dozen people for which the police arrested Deendar Anjuman activists. The Malegaon blasts were preceded by a Tablighi conference. Senior religious leaders believe that the blasts were targeted at the Tablighi’s congregation at Mamidipalli, a few km from the Mecca Masjid.

Participants prefer to take the Mecca Masjid route to reach the venue of the Tablighi Ijtema. Up to 15 lakh people were expected for the meet. Though most of its activities are aimed at “reforming” Muslims, the Tablighi quite often takes up “preaching” among non-Muslims. This has many a time angered the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. “The VHP sent a threatening letter to the office of the Jamiat-e-Ulema Hind after the Malegaon blasts. The letter asked the Jamiat to rein in the Tablighi Jamaat or else face consequences,” Jamiat Ulema AP president Hafiz Peer Shabbir Ahmad said.

It’s going to be a show of strength. Those who do not want the Jamaat to hold such huge congregations are behind the blasts. We will not stop the conference,” said Ata Hussain Anjum, conference organiser.
Moulana Hameeduddin Aquil Hussami, one of the most revered Muslim scholars in Andhra Pradesh, pointed fingers at the VHP and the RSS. “Similar blasts took place in mosques in Malegaon and Nanded in Maharashtra last year. The police instead of launching a free and fair investigation blamed the banned Students Islamic Movement of India. The police has been rounding up so-called SIMI activists after every violent incident without proper investigation,” he said.

Funny, but up until now, I’d considered the DC to be veering a bit to the right.
posted by hadjiboy at 5:08 AM on May 19, 2007

Some other news outlets that you might be interested in adam:

The Hindu
The Times of India
posted by hadjiboy at 5:11 AM on May 19, 2007

PS. What're the tags for putting stuff into Quotes, and the Centre?
posted by hadjiboy at 5:13 AM on May 19, 2007

hadjiboy: Try this link for the Youtube video. And the tag you are looking for, could it be blockquote?
posted by stumbling at 6:45 AM on May 19, 2007

Sepia Mutiny linked to above by chunking express is giving interesting information. hadjiboy - thanks for the links. See this recent question I asked. Several good links to teach yourself HTML
posted by adamvasco at 7:05 AM on May 19, 2007

Thanks stumbling and adamvasco!
posted by hadjiboy at 9:20 AM on May 19, 2007

"It’s going to be a show of strength. Those who do not want the Jamaat to hold such huge congregations are behind the blasts. We will not stop the conference"

I'm totally stymied by this. Why the hell would anyone waste their time stopping other people from praying?? This makes no sense. What are they possibly getting out of it?

"The police instead of launching a free and fair investigation blamed the banned Students Islamic Movement of India"

Now if THIS is what's really happening, I could wrap my mind around it. Say you're some other group like the Islamic Movement of Indian Students and you want to FRAME the Students Islamic Movement of India because it will somehow give you more clout by defaming your competition. THAT I could understand.

STEP ONE: Blow up a mosque.
STEP TWO: Frame a competing organization for it.

...no. All you're doing is making someone else look bad but it's not like people are gonna come running to you. I still don't get this. Besides even if this were the case, there's always something easier and less expensive and less dangerous that you can do. Blowing up shit is never a logical act, unless its controlled demolition for construction purposes... maybe a fireworks display but even that's superfluous. I just can't wrap my mind around how blowing up people has become so fucking fashionable. Whose idea was this in the first place and why can't we just blow him up? I bet he's the same fashion design fucker who said orange was gonna be the new black.
posted by ZachsMind at 11:11 AM on May 19, 2007

Zach, you’re forgetting, it doesn’t have to make sense. Or much sense rather. The people who did this, according to the article I quoted in my previous post (although there are reports that the suspect might be someone linked to a Bangladeshi Terror Group, by the name of Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami), could be the followers of the Ultra Right Wing VHP, which have threatened such action before against Muslims.

What could the motive be—to cause tension in the community.

Why? Why not? They’re Muslim, so let’s blow them up. I mean, if I were a Hindu fundamentalist, and I’d been bombarded with images of Muslims fighting for Kashmir from across the border, and bombing Indian Temples, and cities, maybe I’d be mindwarped enough to do it too.
posted by hadjiboy at 3:45 PM on May 19, 2007

Hadjiboy: Thanks! Wish I had a better camera though; when I return to Hyderabad, I intend to re-take the shot with some proper exposure and such. Those Qutb Shahi arches are something you'll drool over all the time, and yes, I actually sneaked the photo in; you're actually prohibited from snapping photos from that location.

There is now a fair question on whether the police fired in the air to disperse the crowd, or fired _at_ the crowd, which would mean that the police panicked on seeing an enraged crowd. You'd have thought that, given Old City's contemporary history, they'd have perfected the art of crowd management on a Friday afternoon, but no, the police _had_ to panic, and they _had_ to shoot live rounds into a congregation. Absolutely disgusting.

Also, there's a fair certainity that had medical services been provided in time, most of the victims would have been saved (I say this after chatting with a few folks associated with some of the hospitals in question). That is what's so frustrating about the whole episode; for good or for bad, while South Asia is awash with bombs, insurgency and what-not, our civic systems (police, health and fire departments) still stumble heavily whenever there's an attack.

Adamvasco: As I was mentioning, there's a clear pattern of terrorist attacks over the past one year targetting predominantly Muslim areas in India.

That pattern aside, to put it lightly, Hyderabad has had a bit of a history[1] in terms of ethnic conflagrations, although you'd presume it has become better over the past decade or so. In Indian-governmental parlance, we're 'communally-sensitive', meaning on a statistical basis, ethnic riots are more likely to happen here than in, say, Jhumritalayya[2] in Bihar.

Reasons are plenty, but the primary reason was urban decay. The particular area where the blasts took place was once the downtown for the City; the main throughfare, really, where caravans from all directions would intersect. Over the years (and specifically because of some massive re-building after the 1908 floods), the city center had moved from the Charminar area to further north, closer to Secunderabad, thus starting a flight of wealth and power.

There's been some fair amount of urban renewal in the area in recent times, apparently, after all that IT/ex-pat wealth flowing in. At least visually, the area doesn't look run-down like it used to, although it's a fair point to say that the renewal came at the cost of losing some marvellous Asaf Jahi buildings to history (which is a different debate altogether).

So yeah. Mecca Masjid saw a bomb blast _because_ it would cause riotting and more trouble, just as things were improving by leaps and bounds.
[1] - An interesting aside, but while I've always thought that riotting was primarily a 1970's-80's phenomenon, there is apparently some extended history on this. William Darlymple's book White Mughals, for instance, talks about how the then Nizam requested the then British Resident for extra (East India Company) troops during Moharrum. Notice how this mirrors, say, the current Police Commissioner requesting for paramilitary forces during the annual Ganesh immersion procession.

[2] - Put in specifically to see how many on Mefi would 'get' an All India Radio reference. :-)
posted by the cydonian at 11:49 PM on May 20, 2007

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