Always ethereal, always eclectic, I write as the mood strikes, when there intrigue reveals itself. Usually that means something controversial or adventure of some sort.

I've tried really hard to be unprovocative, but have as yet been unsuccessful.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Collapsed Mosque

Just was over at Masjid al Harun, Aaron's Mosque, near Bab Sefir.

I did not realize that there was a whole giant area of the medina, only 100 years old or less, all shabi, all ghetto, up on the hill. I've often seen it from the Merenid Tombs, but not known what I was looking at. It felt very shabi. It didn't look like the ancient medina I'm used to.

I got there and found hundreds of people gathered, watching, curious. There were more ambulances and fire engines than I've ever seen in one place in Morocco, a country without wood buildings. I made my way to the corridon of police and soldiers, and asked the first if there was a way to volunteer. He directed me up the street, and I asked a second, saying I wanted to lift stones to help. He directed me on to a third, who said I could cross the street and enter into the area that was collapsed- they weren't letting the hundreds in. By this time I'd gotten the impression that it would be unlikely that they would need help. If so, wouldn't the hundreds watching have already taken care of it?

The fourth policeman told me to go to the manager of the firemen, in the middle of the collapsed building, who had a crowd of firemen around him, listening to his orders. At this point I could get a good view of what everything looked like. It wasn't just a roof, but the entire central section of the mosque had collapsed. "Not one stone was laid upon another." Bent and twisted rubarb, previously holding the building up, purveyed all the scene, mixed with dust and pavement. On the left was a large gaping half building, reminding me of the OK City bombing, and on the right, another half-building, next to the minaret. Between the entire building.

I'm told it happened during prayers. I imagine them in prayer, devoted, lifting up praise to God, and the great roar. They probably thought it was an earthquake. But this was so huge, so much devastation in this one spot, that it must have seemed as if Yom Qiyama the Judgment Day had finally arrived. I am shocked- and glad- that only three died, and not more. Had this been at the middle of prayer, there must have been many more that would have lost their lives.

When I talked to the chief, he told me the work was all done. There was now no need for volunteers. No one was left trapped anymore, and three had died, allayrahemhum, but that was it.

Please be in prayer for the families of the victims and the injured, and those who survived, who may be traumatized from these events. May God use this tragedy to draw them ever closer to him.