Arabs remember Mother's Day on Spring Equinox amid Gaza heartbreak

Arabs remember Mother's Day on Spring Equinox amid Gaza heartbreak
Most countries in the Middle East and North Africa mark 21 March as Mother’s Day, but the day has been overshadowed by the war on Gaza.
3 min read
21 March, 2024
Palestinian women took part in a protest demanding release the prisoners in Israeli jails, in front of Red cross office on Mother's Day in Gaza city in 2016 [Getty]

Arabs across the Middle East honoured Mother's Day on Thursday but with the shadow of the war on Gaza looming over the celebrations.

Countries celebrating 'Arab Mother's Day' include the UAE, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Comoros, Djibouti, Libya, and Mauritania.

This year, Arab Mother's Day coincides with the Spring Equinox, marking the first day of Spring, and also when Iranian peoples celebrate the festival of Nowruz.

Arab journalist Mustafa Amin first celebrated Mother's Day in Egypt in the Middle East. He wrote in his book A Smiling America about the time he learned that Mother's Day is celebrated in the US each May.

Amin lobbied for a day to honour Arab mothers after he met a woman who told him that she raised her son as a single parent, put him through medical school, and bought him and his new wife a house.

Afterwards, Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser announced Mother's Day as a celebration in Egypt in 1956, and the occasion has been celebrated ever since.

This year, the holiday is being commemorated differently across the Arab world.

Arab leaders and their partners wished mothers a Happy Mother's Day, including Egypt's first Lady Entissar El-Sisi.

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Mother's Day in Palestine has been overshadowed by the ongoing tragedy of the war on Gaza, where more than 31,988 have been killed and 74,188 injured since 7 October, including 25,000 women.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society said 37 mothers are killed in the Gaza Strip every day.

Israeli forces also denied 28 Palestinian detained mothers from celebrating the day with their children, the Palestinian Prisoner's Society (PPS) and the Detainees and Ex-Detainees Commission said in a joint statement.

"At a time when the world celebrates Mother's Day and excludes Palestinian mothers, in light of the lack of a real global will to end the occupation and stop its escalating crimes," PPS and the Commission added.

Even before 7 October, the Palestinian Prisoners" Club released a report that Israeli occupation forces continued to hold ten mothers among 31 female prisoners in detention at the Damon prison.

The report said that the Israeli prison administration deprives the children of women prisoners from seeing them - except from behind bars - or embracing them.

Israeli forces routinely detain the mothers of suspects accused of criminal activity to pressure them to hand themselves in, they added.

Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners have also lost their mothers during the years of their detention without being allowed to say goodbye.

Other countries that celebrate Mother's Day on different dates include Turkey, India, and the UK, which celebrate it in March.