Faithful Muslims around the world begin celebrating Eid

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Muslim worshippers attend Eid Al-Fitr prayers at the Al-Masjid An-Nabawi (Prophets Mosque) in Madinah, Saudi Arabia. (SPA)
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Muslim worshippers attend Eid Al-Fitr prayers at the Al-Masjid An-Nabawi (Prophets Mosque) in Madinah, Saudi Arabia. (SPA)
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Muslim worshippers perform Eid Al-Fitr prayers at the Grand Mosque in the Saudi holy city of Makkah. (AFP)
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A man sits visits the grave of a relative on the first day of Eid Al-Fitr at in the rebel-held Syrian northwestern city of Idlib. (AFP)
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A mufti and other muslims pray outside the Moscow Cathedral Mosque during celebrations of Eid Al-Fitr in Moscow, Russia. (AP)
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Ivorian Muslims offer prayers for the Eid Al-Fitr holiday in front of a mosque in Adjame neighborhood of Abidjan. (AFP)
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Syrians shop in the Bazurieh market in Damascus’ historic bazaar ahead of Eid Al-Fitr. (AFP)
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A young Muslim worshipper runs off during a mass prayer to celebrate Eid Al-Fitr at the Stade des Martyrs in Kinshasa. (AFP)
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Afghan men attend Eid Al-Fitr prayers at the presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan. (AP)
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Muslims attend the morning prayers of Eid Al-Fitr, marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. (Reuters)
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Muslim worshippers perform Eid Al-Fitr prayers at the Suleymaniye mosque in Istanbul. (AFP)
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A Palestinian woman stands next to sweets for sale as Palestinians shop ahead of the Muslim holiday of Eid Al-Fitr, which marks the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, in Jerusalem’s Old City. (Reuters)
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Muslims attend the morning prayers of Eid Al-Fitr, marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan, in Mogadishu, Somalia. (Reuters)
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A Palestinian man prepares traditional cakes for sale ahead of Muslim holiday of Eid Al-Fitr, which marks the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, in Jerusalem’s Old City. (Reuters)
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Turkey’s Muslims offer prayers during the first day of Eid Al-Fitr, which marks the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan at the Suleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul. (AP)
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Young Muslim worshippers are seen ahead of a mass prayer to celebrate Eid Al-Fitr at the Stade des Martyrs in Kinshasa. (AFP)
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Libyan Muslim worshippers gather to perform Eid Al-Fitr prayers at the Martyrs Square of the capital Tripoli. (AFP)
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Girls wait for the start of Eid Al-Fitr prayers in Bucharest, Romania. (AP)
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Children ride a carousel during the first day of the Muslim holiday of Eid Al-Fitr, which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan, in Kabul, Afghanistan. (Reuters)
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Libyan Muslim worshippers pose for a picture after performing Eid Al-Fitr prayers at the Martyrs Square of the capital Tripoli. (AFP)
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Muslims attend the morning prayers of Eid Al-Fitr, marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan, in Juba, South Sudan. (Reuters)
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Decorations on a street in Jakarta as people start to head to their hometowns to celebrate Eid Al-Fitr. (AFP)
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Kenyan Muslims stand for prayers outside Masjid As Salaam during the Eid Al-Fitr prayers in Nairobi, Kenya. (AP)
Updated 04 June 2019

Faithful Muslims around the world begin celebrating Eid

  • Muslims worldwide celebrate Eid Al-Fitr marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan
  • Mosques hold special prayers at sunrise, followed by family visits and feasts

RIYADH: Muslims across the Middle East and beyond began marking the Islamic holiday of Eid Al-Fitr, one of the most celebrated holidays for the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims and traditionally a time for family and festivities.
The holiday marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan, when devout Muslims have been fasting from sunrise to sunset.
But the start of the holiday varies from country to country — with splits even within the same country — because the start of Eid is traditionally based on sightings of the new moon.
As with everything else in the Middle East, politics often plays a part.
Ordinarily a festive occasion, this year’s Eid comes amid war and turmoil in more than one area. In Afghanistan, the Taliban insurgent group has said it will not mark Eid with a cease fire, as they did last year. Yemen has been mired in war and famine for years, while in Sudan, the ruling military just conducted a deadly crackdown on Monday against pro-democracy protesters, killing at least 35.
Sudanese protesters have camped for months outside the military’s headquarters as the two sides negotiated over who would run the country after longtime strongman Omar Al-Bashir’s ouster in April. On Monday, the military had had enough and moved to crush the protest movement, overrunning the main sit-in site in the capital, unleashing furious volleys of gunfire, beating protesters with sticks and burning down tents.
At night, the state-run SUNA news agency announced that the country will celebrate the first day of Eid on Wednesday, but the Sudanese Professionals’ Association, which has spearheaded the protests, declared Tuesday is the first day of Eid according to astronomers in the Khartoum University — apparently in defiance to the military council.
The SPA urged people across the country to hold Eid prayers, “pray for the martyrs” and take to the streets to protest.
Mohammed Yousef Al-Mustafa, a spokesman for the SPA, said the military authorities has announced Tuesday as a fasting day in efforts to keep people in their homes after Monday’s “massacre.”
In Yemen, the internationally recognized government said Tuesday is the first day of Eid, while the Iran-backed Houthi militia who control much of the country including the capital, Sanaa, announced that Eid starts on Wednesday.
It is the first time in Yemen’s modern history that its people were split over celebrating Eid.
Saudi Arabia, as well as Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar started celebrating on Tuesday, whereas Egypt, Syria, Jordan, the Palestinian territories and others said the Shawwal crescent moon was not visible across the country and would not start till Wednesday.
In Lebanon and Iraq, Sunnis began celebrating on Tuesday whereas Shiites will celebrate on Wednesday.
Pakistan, which is mostly Sunni, traditionally celebrates a day after most of the Muslim world. Pakistan is also split within the country along geographical lines, with residents of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa province, located on the border with Afghanistan and dominated by ethnic Pashtuns, celebrating Eid on Tuesday. The new moon was apparently spotted in North Waziristan, while the rest of Pakistan will celebrate on Wednesday.
In Afghanistan, Shiites were told by clerics that the moon was not seen so Ramadan would not begin for them until Wednesday. Sunnis however are celebrating Tuesday. The Taliban have said there will be no end to fighting while US and NATO troops are still in Afghanistan.
Elsewhere, thousands of Muslims living in Moscow gathered in and outside the city’s grand mosque to pray. Security was high and mounted police patrolled the streets.
The Moscow Cathedral Mosque, which has capacity for 10,000 people, was packed with worshippers, many of whom hail originally from Central Asia.
After Orthodox Christianity, Islam is the second biggest religion in Russia.
“We came to pray and the place is not important. The only place we need is a place to put a rug, to pray to God, to take part in this holiday — this is the most important,” said Sivush Veriyev.
Thousands of faithful packed stadiums in Addis Ababa and Mogadishu and there were also mass prayers in the Nigerian capital Abuja as well as Juba in South Sudan.
In Bangladesh, thousands of people have been scrambling to Dhaka’s ferry terminals and stations, packing trains heading out of the city to return to their hometowns for Eid.
In Turkey, President Tayyip Erdogan prayed at Istanbul’s huge new Camlica mosque, which he formally inaugurated last month.
The holiday traditionally lasts one to three days and is eagerly anticipated after the month of fasting. During Ramadan, the faithful refrain from eating, drinking, smoking or sexual activity from dawn to dusk.
Most businesses close during Eid, as people dress up and visited relatives, enjoying their first daytime meals in a lunar month. The day begins with early morning prayers and then family visits and feasts. Families also visit the graves of their lost ones and children are often given gifts or a special allowance.

*With AP and Reuters


‘Political reconciliation’ with Pakistan top priority: Daudzai

Updated 5 min 13 sec ago

‘Political reconciliation’ with Pakistan top priority: Daudzai

  • Pakistan played positive role in US-Taliban peace talks, says diplomat

PESHAWAR: Afghanistan’s newly appointed special envoy for Pakistan has had put “mending political relations” between the two estranged nations as one of his top priorities.

Mohammed Umer Daudzai, on Tuesday said that his primary focus would be to ensure lasting peace in Afghanistan and maintain strong ties with Pakistan, especially after Islamabad’s key role in the Afghan peace process earlier this year.

In an exclusive interview, the diplomat told Arab News: “Two areas have been identified to focus on with renewed vigor, such as lasting peace in Afghanistan and cementing Pak-Afghan bilateral ties in economic, social, political and other areas.”

In order to achieve these aims, he said, efforts would be intensified “to mend political relations” between the neighboring countries.

Pakistan and Afghanistan share a 2,600-kilometer porous border and have been at odds for years. Bonds between them have been particularly strained due to a deep mistrust and allegations of cross-border infiltration by militants.

Kabul has blamed Islamabad for harboring Taliban leaders after they were ousted from power in 2001. But Pakistan has denied the allegations and, instead, accused Kabul of providing refuge to anti-Pakistan militants – a claim rejected by Afghanistan.

Daudzai said his immediate priority would be to focus on “political reconciliation” between the two countries, especially in the backdrop of a historic peace agreement signed in February this year when Pakistan played a crucial role in facilitating a troop withdrawal deal between the US and the Taliban to end the decades-old Afghan conflict. “Afghanistan needs political reconciliation which the Afghan government has already been working on to achieve bottom-up harmony,” he added.

Daudzai’s appointment Monday by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani took place days after Islamabad chose Mohammed Sadiq as Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s special representative for Afghanistan.

Reiterating the need to maintain strong bilateral ties with all of its neighbors, Daudzai said Pakistan’s role was of paramount importance to Afghanistan.

“Pakistan has a positive role in the US-Taliban peace talks, and now Islamabad could play a highly significant role in the imminent intra-Afghan talks. I will explore all options for a level-playing field for the success of all these initiatives,” he said, referring in part to crucial peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban which were delayed due to a stalemate in a prisoner exchange program – a key condition of the Feb. 29 peace deal.

Under the agreement, up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners and around 1,000 government prisoners were to be freed by March 10. So far, Afghanistan has released 3,000 prisoners, while the Taliban have freed 500. Daudzai said that while dates had yet to be finalized, the intra-Afghan dialogue could begin “within weeks.”

He added: “A date for intra-Afghan talks hasn’t been identified yet because there is a stalemate on prisoners’ release. But I am sure they (the talks) will be kicked off within weeks.”

Experts say Daudzai’s appointment could give “fresh momentum” to the stalled process and revitalize ties between the two estranged neighbors.

“Mohammed Sadiq’s appointment...could lead Kabul-Islamabad to a close liaison and better coordination,” Irfanullah Khan, an MPhil scholar and expert on Afghan affairs, told Arab News.

Daudzai said that he would be visiting Islamabad to kickstart the process as soon as the coronavirus disease-related travel restrictions were eased.

Prior to being appointed as the special envoy, he had served as Afghanistan’s ambassador to Pakistan from April 2011 to August 2013.

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