Feature

Making a mockery of charity

The week's news at a glance.

Saudi Arabia

Zainy AbbasArab News

“Severed limbs, horrific disabilities, and alarming deformities are just some of the horrid sights” that greet pilgrims to Mecca, said Zainy Abbas in Riyadh’s Arab News. It is Ramadan, the season of charity, but to criminal gangs, that’s “the perfect time to elicit people’s sympathies to make a fortune” by begging. The gangs come from Muslim countries the world over—from Malaysia, Indonesia, and any number of African countries—and station disfigured children right outside the major Saudi mosques. Many of those children actually were born perfectly healthy, but the gangs amputated their limbs or gave them oozing sores to make them look more pitiful and desperate. The kids are, in effect, pimped out as beggars, forced to give all their money to the leader of the gang. “Those with legs” run after worshippers, moaning and displaying their wounds “to disgust” people into giving money just to end the spectacle. The Anti-Beggary Department does what it can. It has been largely successful in eliminating the problem inside the Grand Mosque itself, so at least now we can worship in peace. The next step is to prevent the beggars from sitting “straight bang in the middle of the sidewalk, and in the way.”

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