Eid reflections: Istanbul, Dhaka, Baghdad, Medina

I vividly recall every detail of my two-day visit to Turkey last year. I traveled alone to a country I had never before seen, and in this brief trip I tried to soak up all the beauty and glamour that up until then, I had only seen from afar on Instagram posts and Tumblr blogs.

In short, the country took my breath away, quite literally. I was in awe of every exotic landmark; the architecture of the Blue Mosque was so profound that merely being inside the mosque somehow gave me a physical sensation of the historic vibes that were so strongly embedded in it. From the mind-boggling architecture to the striking blue tiles and the resplendent minarets, I was awe-struck, so much so that I forgot to take pictures on my phone, something I regretted afterwards. The second I entered the Hagia Sophia, I didn’t want to leave. (I was seriously contemplating ways of staying there overnight without being noticed!)

Generally, I abhor shopping but the Grand Bazaar and its shopkeepers made me want to shop till I dropped. The smiling face of each shopkeeper as they whiffed the scent of tourism on me was filled with genuineness and I succumbed and bought their goods.

I was envious of all the civilians that walked by because this was their home and I was merely a passerby and tomorrow, I would return.

To have such a beautiful country tainted with tragedy brings me to tears. It’s even worse because I was there, at some point, savoring the profundity the country offered me. It terrifies me because that could have easily been me but instead was so many other souls who didn’t deserve this. Just because it was written for me to be saved from this particular attack, doesn’t mean that I’m always safe. Still, I refuse to allow these pleasant memories to be effaced.

Unfortunately, Turkey is not alone. My social media has taken a melancholic and gory turn in past couple of days and I’m hardly alone. We are currently witnessing war in the rearview mirror. Headline after headline, the heartache is endless.

Istanbul Ataturk airport attack: 41 dead and 239 injured in ‘hideous’ suicide bombings in Turkey.

Iraq: Baghdad bombing kills more than 200

Bangladesh attack: Twenty hostages killed, army says

4 die in suicide blast near Prophet’s Mosque

My eyes water as I read and reread those headlines. Is there an end to the list, I wonder?

Innocent people. These are innocent people who were just traveling, shopping or living their lives causing no harm. To have that existence robbed from them in a heartbeat is utterly barbarous. Of all the heart wrenching images, the one that stood out to me the most was an image of a Palestinian child sitting on hospital bed waiting for her mother, not knowing that her mother had, in fact, died.

Eid is supposed to be a jubilant holiday for all Muslims. But here we are, witnessing families mourning members that they will never celebrate Eid with again.

Why isn’t everyone praying for Medina or Iraq or Bangladesh or Turkey the way they prayed for Brussels and Paris? Why didn’t Turkey, or Iraq, or Bangladesh or Saudi receive the same news coverage? Ultimately, I want to know, along with so many other Muslims and Easterners, why isn’t every life valued the same?


Afnan Nehela is a Journalism and Neuroscience double major at University of Massachusetts Amherst, Class of 2017.


Photo Credit: Ahmed Sadoon


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *