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Catching up on this year’s sad Friday the 13th

Friday 13th has ended, but for many around the world today, the aftermath of that day is still being felt.

In western superstition, Friday 13th is considered an unlucky day. According to some sources, the myth may have developed from the Last Supper Jesus had with his disciples just before his crucifixion.  Jesus died on Good Friday and there were thirteen people at that Last Supper: Jesus and his twelve disciples.

Since then, the myth has embedded itself in people’s psyche.  Some hotels in Europe don’t even have a room 13.  The Savoy Hotel in London brings out a sculpture of a cat when they have a table of thirteen diners.  Talk about not leaving diners in charge of their own beliefs.  Said cat is treated like any other diner with his own chair and meal!

The British Medical Journal went as far as publishing a study in 2003 to show that there were more accidents happening on Friday 13th than on other Fridays.  Still, the superstition has never been held too seriously, except if suffering from friggatriskaidekaphobia, as is called the fear of Friday 13th.

However, yesterday was a particularly bad Friday 13th with terrorist attacks in France, Lebanon, an earthquake in Japan, road accidents in Cote d’Ivoire…  And in many places around the world, like Syria or the Central Republic of Africa, people have a Friday 13th everyday.

The Paris attacks, which were seven coordinated attacks, have so far killed 128 people.  President François Hollande has declared a state of emergency in the whole of France and has closed the borders of the country. The Paris underground has also been shut down.

Further afield in Beirut in Lebanon, on Thursday night, 50 people lost their lives due to an attack led by ISIS as a punishment for those supporting President Assad of Syria. As if the innocents they kill even know the politics of their country.

In the western African state of Cote d’Ivoire, a mini-van commonly called “Gbaka” collided with a lorry and a bus.  Thankfully no one died, but the impact of the accident saw the mini-van cut in two, injuring about twenty people.

These attacks and accidents go beyond a superstitious day. Some witnesses of the Paris attacks heard the terrorists shout “It’s for Syria” before getting on with their barbaric acts.  But in which way will the killing of more than a hundred people do anything to improve the situation in Syria? And what were the motives of the terrorists for these attacks?

Many world leaders have expressed their sympathies toward the people of France.  Even the Ivorian government, whose president is currently in France for the COP21, has done so.  Yet those people from the “Gbaka” accident barely had a word said to them.  A simple case of bad luck perhaps?  Yet, these are mini-vans, real metal contraptions operated by drivers oftentimes high on black coffee mixed with other substances routinely cause accidents.  But nothing is done to regulate their presence on the streets of the Ivorian capital of Abidjan.

Ironically, yesterday was the international day of kindness.  And kindness was expressed around the world, from those who opened their homes in Paris for those people who couldn’t go to their neighbourhoods, to the many messages of support on social media networks for Paris, Beirut, RCA, Syria, Japan…

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