(CNSNews.com) – As the world’s Muslims end their fasting month of Ramadan on Monday, Saudi King Abdullah in an Eid Al-Fitr message to Muslims everywhere underlined one situation which he said had tempered the joy of Ramadan. It wasn’t the Gaza Strip.
Instead, the “custodian of the two holy mosques,” who turns 90 on Friday, pointed to those whom he said had been misled by Islam’s enemies to carry out acts of terror in many parts of the Islamic world.
“The joy of this Eid would have been complete if it were not for the harsh reality experienced by our Islamic nation in many of its parts as a result of conflicts for the sake of slogans, calls and factions that are totally baseless,” Abdullah said in a speech, read on Saudi television by his culture and information minister.
“These conflicts would not have existed, if the enemies of Islam and peace had not found a small group who went astray as a result of listening to them,” he said. “The group has become an easy tool in their hands.”
“They have used the group to terrorize and kill innocent people, and have distorted the texts, implications and interpretations of shari’a to serve their ends and personal interests.”
Abdullah did not identify the “enemies of Islam” to whom he was referring or elaborate on where the terrorism was taking place.
Ramadan marks the month during which Muslims believe Allah revealed the Qur’an to Mohammed in the 7th century. Muslims refrain from food, drink and other worldly pleasures between sunrise and sunset, with evenings spent eating, socializing and reciting scriptures.
It is supposed to be a time of Muslim peace and unity.
During the course of Ramadan, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) issued one statement each on violence in Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Tunisia and the Saudi-Yemen border; two statements on terror attacks in Nigeria; and eight on Gaza and “Palestine.”
The month has witnessed bloodshed in a number of countries attributed to groups claiming to be acting in the name of Islam. The vast majority of victims were Muslims:
Some of the deadliest fighting in the three-and-a-half-year Syrian conflict occurred during Ramadan 2014, despite appeals at the start of the month by the OIC and Arab League for a ceasefire during the “holy month.”
Most of the clashes have taken place between forces of President Bashar Assad’s regime and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS).
More than 700 people were killed in Syria’s Homs province during one 48-hour period in the middle of the month, and in recent days fierce fighting in northern Raqqa province has cost scores more lives. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, in independent monitoring group, said ISIS fighters had executed dozens of Syrian soldiers, in some cases beheading them.
At the start of Ramadan, ISIS declared a “caliphate” in areas it controls in Syria and Iraq – where it had captured large swaths in the north and west in June – and demanded that Muslims everywhere pledge allegiance. In its Mosul stronghold, ISIS this month gave Christians an ultimatum to convert, pay a tax or be killed, and has also destroyed several ancient holy places including a mosque named for the prophet Jonah.
As in previous Ramadans in recent years, sectarian terrorist bombings were commonplace in Iraq over the past month, with Baghdad especially hard hit by suicide and truck bombings.
In Libya, the deadliest spate of violence since the civil war that toppled the Gaddafi regime has killed more than 150 people in clashes between Islamist militias and security forces in Tripoli and Benghazi. Th security deterioration prompted the weekend evacuation of U.S. Embassy personnel, who traveled by road to neighboring Tunisia, with U.S. fighter planes providing air cover.
At least 43 people, including eight children, were killed on July 15 when a car bomb was detonated in a crowded market place in eastern Afghanistan, where people were shopping for Ramadan food. It was the deadliest single attack on Afghan civilians since 2012.
On July 26, gunmen in eastern Ghor province stopped a bus, then lined up and shot dead 15 civilians, according to the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, which earlier in the month had said in a statement that “in light of the sanctity of this month, Afghan families should be able to worship and celebrate in peace, without fear of violence.”
The al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab marked the start of Ramadan by announcing stepped up attacks on Somali security forces and other representatives of the “apostate” government. By the end of the month the death toll exceeded 60, and included two members of parliament, four people killed in a car bombing at the national parliament, and 14 soldiers killed when terrorists stormed the presidential palace during an evening iftar meal.
In Yemen, fighting between Sunni and Shi’ite rebels killed scores of people during July, while more were killed in separate clashes between Yemeni soldiers and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) terrorists. On July 21 the U.S. government issued a fresh warn to citizens in Yemen to leave.
Ramadan has been particularly deadly in Nigeria, where the Islamist Boko Haram group took no respite in its campaign of killing and maiming civilians in the north. Just some of its attacks included:
--Fifty-one people were killed in an attack on a Borno state village in early July. Among the dead were seven men whose daughters are among the more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram in a nearby town last April. The girls are still missing.
--At least 26 were killed in a predominantly Christian village in Borno on July 14. Three churches were torched.
--“Scores” of people were killed in an attack on another Borno town on July 20. The terrorists hoisted a Boko Haram flag in the town after the assault.
--At least 82 people were killed in Kaduna state on July 23, many of them as a result of suicide bombings.
A Muslim mob enraged over allegations of blasphemy killed four Ahmadis – a woman and three children – and torched several houses in Pakistan’s Punjab province on Sunday.
The Ahmadi Muslim sect is considered heretical by mainstream Muslims, and Pakistan’s constitution declares them to be “non-Muslims.” Ahmadi worship is a criminal offense under the penal code.