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

  • 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.

UK relatives of Daesh ‘Beatles’ victims relieved as trial nears

Updated 23 September 2020

UK relatives of Daesh ‘Beatles’ victims relieved as trial nears

  • The evidence regarding El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey was transferred to Washington immediately after Tuesday’s court ruling
  • The pair, who have been stripped of UK citizenship, are in the custody of US forces in Iraq

LONDON: Relatives of two Britons killed by a Daesh cell on Wednesday welcomed a breakthrough that advances the US trial of two Londoners accused of their brutal deaths.
The families of Alan Henning and David Haines said a ruling by the London High Court permitting the UK government to share evidence with US authorities about the suspects was a “huge result for us.”
“We have only ever wanted to see these two men being held accountable and brought to justice through a fair trial for their alleged actions,” they said in a statement released by the charity Hostage International.
The evidence regarding El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey was transferred to Washington immediately after Tuesday’s court ruling.
The pair, who have been stripped of UK citizenship, are in the custody of US forces in Iraq.
Kotey and Elsheikh’s four-member cell was dubbed “the Beatles” by their captives due to their English accents. They are accused of torturing and killing victims, including by beheading, and Daesh released videos of the deaths for propaganda purposes.
A two-year legal impasse concerning the suspects was broken last month when Attorney General Bill Barr said they would be spared execution if convicted after trial in the United States.
The United States wants to try them for the murder of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and aid worker Peter Kassig, during 2014-2015.
Taxi driver Henning and former aircraft engineer Haines, who had both gone to Syria to do aid work, were beheaded in 2014.
Another of the cell’s alleged victims was British photojournalist John Cantlie, who was kidnapped in Syria in 2012 and remains missing.
Cantlie’s sister Jessica Pocock told of the relatives’ intense frustration at the long legal wait.
“At times we felt absolutely desperate as to whether the legal system was ever going to be able to bring these two to justice — wherever they may be,” she told BBC radio.
“That was always terribly important to us to have a proper, fair trial. The families need nothing less than a fair trial,” she said.
The US Department of Justice welcomed the court ruling and expressed gratitude to Britain for transferring the evidence, although a trial date has yet to be set.