How safe are houses of God?

Erawan Shrine. Formally the Thao Maha Phrom Shrine, the Erawan is a Hindu shrine in Bangkok, Thailand, that houses a statue of Phra Phrom, the Thai representation of the Hindu god of creation Lord Brahma. On 17 August 2015, a bomb exploded near the shrine, killing 20.

Today, more than ever it is not unusual to find news of worship places destroyed by terrorists in different parts of the world.

During the good old days, if a traveler or a poor man did not find any other shelter to have a rest, or even stay a night, then the closest mosque, church or Temple would be the ideal refuge.

Don’t count on that to happen anymore. Along with many other people around the world, we have been watching with horror, the merciless attacks on these houses of God that are supposed to be a haven of peace and adoration.

When I heard of the attack at the Erawan Shrine in Bangkok where tens of people lost their lives and scores of others were injured, I remembered the times I walked in that area of Chidlom, a very well known district in Bangkok that I have often visited.

I also could picture myself in the position of those who were there on that day, both worshipers and tourists who were for sure seeking some kind of inner peace and tranquility.

And then there was the attack on a Charleston church and on mosques in the Persian Gulf region, so when I was on a recent visit to Kuwait, I was shocked to see how many mosques had been barricaded and cordoned with very tough security forces guarding the place and searching every worshiper who wanted to enter for prayers.

I remember when the tough security measures started in airports all around the world, it took us a long time to accept being treated as suspects.

In more developed airports we had to deal with stern, unfriendly officers and unknown rays of their advanced machines that checked us, while in less advanced airports one has to bitterly put up with that physical search by officers who sometimes mistook their role with that of a physician who is checking your anatomy looking for some fatal tumor!

One of the harshest and longest searches ever was while leaving Kashmir / India.

We flew into this city with no issues, but upon departure we were faced with the toughest security checkups ever.

We were searched on the way to the airport, at the gate and then at the entrance of the airport, all this even before the final checking point where you board the plane.

By the time I settled on my seat, I was so exhausted that I had forgotten how beautiful this city was.

But then you have to travel, and they say it is a bitter pill that will prevent the worst from happening, and life goes on, but to have to go through the same in the houses of God, is another story.

A Muslim friend of mine told me that her husband and son no longer go to the mosque for prayers, they stay home and pray, and though there is nothing wrong with praying at home, these evil acts have pushed people away from a prominent teaching of their Faith. What is next? I dread to think!

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