Sri Lankan Muslims observe quiet Eid at home

Sri Lankan Muslims observe quiet Eid at home
A family pray on the rooftop of their residence in Colombo on Sunday during the Eid Al-Fitr prayers to mark the end of Ramadan. (Reuters)
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Updated 25 May 2020

Sri Lankan Muslims observe quiet Eid at home

Sri Lankan Muslims observe quiet Eid at home
  • On low-key Eid celebrations, leaders say nation must stand together to stop disease

COLOMBO: Sri Lankan Muslims are staying at home during this year’s Eid Al-Fitr as the island country enforced a nation-wide curfew on Sunday and Monday to prevent mass gatherings and the spread of the coronavirus. 

All-Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama (ACJU) President Sheikh Rizwe Mohammed told Arab News on Sunday that the Muslim community had followed the government’s guidelines and avoided group meetings and congregational prayers.

“We are happy that the Muslims enjoyed the company of their kith and kin at home, holding prayers at their own homes,” he said. He added that although the community had been badly affected by job losses during the two-month lockdown to control the coronavirus, the focus of the nation was to stand together and stop the disease.  

To express their support for the government and solidarity with law enforcers, Muslims in Colombo’s Aluthkade area decorated their police station on the eve of Eid.

Director of the Department of Muslim Religious and Cultural Affairs M.B.M. Ashraff told Arab News that he had instructed imams not to hold congregational prayers. At each mosque, only the imam and muezzin were allowed to be inside to announce the call for Eid prayers through loudspeakers.

Muslims were also advised to avoid their traditional Eid visits to graveyards and avoid all types of public gatherings, including the distribution of alms, Ashraff said. They were requested to conduct all charity activities in coordination with police and local medical officers.

The stricter controls on charity follow a deadly incident in Colombo’s densely populated Maligawatte suburb on Thursday, when private donations were distributed to the poor in the Muslim-dominated area and three women died in the resulting stampede.

N.M. Ameen, president of the Muslim Council of Sri Lanka, told Arab News that no disturbances had so far been observed during this year’s Eid.

Ameen said that Muslims had been asked to avoid Eid shopping. “Instead, opt for online purchasing and home delivery, which is more convenient and also safer in the current context,” he said.

Although the plea was generally followed, some middle-class Muslim women in parts of Colombo were seen shopping in the Pettah area, where a number of shops remained open.

One of them, Noor Jezima, justified her decision by saying that she needed to buy clothes and gifts to reward her children for obediently fasting during the month of Ramadan. “As parents, we have to encourage our children to do good deeds with some incentives,” she said.


Afghan government, Taliban announce breakthrough deal to press on with peace talks

Updated 02 December 2020

Afghan government, Taliban announce breakthrough deal to press on with peace talks

Afghan government, Taliban announce breakthrough deal to press on with peace talks
  • The agreement lays out the way forward for further discussion
  • Taliban insurgents have refused to agree to a cease-fire during the preliminary stages of talks

KABUL: Afghan government and Taliban representatives said on Wednesday they had reached a preliminary deal to press on with peace talks, their first written agreement in 19 years of war.
The agreement lays out the way forward for further discussion but is considered a breakthrough because it will allow negotiators to move on to more substantive issues, including talks on a cease-fire.
“The procedure including its preamble of the negotiation has been finalized and from now on, the negotiation will begin on the agenda,” Nader Nadery, a member of the Afghan government’s negotiating team, told Reuters.
The Taliban spokesman confirmed the same on Twitter.
The agreement comes after months of discussions in Doha, the capital of Qatar, in negotiations encouraged by the United States. In Afghanistan, the two sides are still at war, with Taliban attacks on government forces continuing unabated.
Taliban insurgents have refused to agree to a cease-fire during the preliminary stages of talks, despite calls from Western capitals and global bodies, saying that that would be taken up only when the way forward for talks was agreed upon.
UN envoy for Afghanistan Deborah Lyons welcomed the “positive development” on Twitter, adding that “this breakthrough should be a springboard to reach the peace wanted by all Afghans.”
Last month, an agreement reached between Taliban and government negotiators was held up at the last minute after the insurgents balked at the document’s preamble because it mentioned the Afghan government by name.
The Taliban refused to refer to the Afghan negotiating team as representatives of the Afghan government, as they contest the legitimacy of the administration led by President Ashraf Ghani.