Monday, February 02, 2004


The Hyperdictionary defines "patronizing" as "to treat condescendingly". Following the definitional chain, we find that "condescension" is defined as:

The act of condescending; voluntary descent from one's rank or dignity in intercourse with an inferior; courtesy toward inferiors.

Shortly after more than 240 hajj pilgrims died at a stampede in the holy city of Mecca and after Saudi authorities assured the world that precautions would be taken to prevent a recurrence, a second stampede occurred at the same devil-stoning ritual at which the first carnage took place.

Dozens of unconscious pilgrims were taken to hospital in the town of Mina near the Muslim holy city of Mecca today after being caught in another stampede during the stoning of the devil ritual, the Saudi health minister said. Unlike yesterday's stampede in which 251 pilgrims were killed, there were no deaths this time, Hamad al-Mani told reporters. "A stampede occurred this evening (local time) on the stoning bridge which caused a large number of pilgrims to fall to the ground," said Mani.

Just the day before, a South African newspaper noted that, despite the hundreds of deaths that had taken place in the last few days a press of hajj pilgrims were massed at the very scene of the disaster.

Before dawn, a vanguard of the faithful were already pouring on to the esplanade, where three stone pillars represent the devil, to join the last major act of the annual haj pilgrimage to Mecca. ... A tide of white-robed Muslims were gathered around the site by mid-morning as helicopters flew overhead monitoring the flow.The second day threatened to be a further high-risk exercise for the Saudi authorities, who had nonetheless announced last month an "integrated crowd control strategy" to prevent new tragedies during the annual event.

That was before the second stampede. Properly speaking, though, it should be called the fifth stampede in recent years as four had preceded it, including the mega-disaster in the last few days. The history of the devil-stoning ritual has been a perilous one. "Last year 14 pilgrims were killed in a stampede during the first day of the same ritual and 35 in 2001, while the 1998 haj saw 118 killed and more than 180 hurt at the pillars. And in 1994, 270 were killed", the South African Star reported. Omitted from mention were the 1,500 hajj pilgrims who died in a tunnel stampede in 1990.

If a revenue-earning pilgrimage at Lourdes or at St. Peter's had killed 2,100 people in the last fourteen years, there would probably be calls to ban or regulate it in the interests of safety. Instead,  the French government has issued this statement:

"France pays homage to the efforts of the Saudi authorities who organized as efficiently as possible emergency help and assistance for the victims. In these painful circumstances, we express our sympathy to the kingdom's authorities and present our sincerest condolences to the families of the victims"

Just was there are cartoon laws of physics to govern animated characters in the funnies, the politically correct classes have ordained Muslim rules of behavior which are different from those which apply even to a poor Salvadoran Catholic peasant. But it implies no respect for Muslim culture, rather the contrary. It suggests no appreciation for Muslim lives, rather the reverse. It implies no regard for the Islamic mind, rather its absence. It is not the intercourse between equals. It is patronizing.