05/22/2020, 16.12
ASIA – ISLAM
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COVID-19 hits Eid al-Fitr, the festival marking the end of Ramadan

One of the most important dates in Islam will be marked by lockdown, restrictions and social distancing. Most countries have banned lavish communal meals and feasts. In Dubai, the police will carry thermal detectors. People not wearing masks risk hefty fines. Public transit has been banned in Egypt.

Baghdad (AsiaNews) – The novel coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed lives and shut down places of worship worldwide, will also affect Eid al-Fitr, one of the most important moments in Islam, characterised by communal feasting and celebrations.

To avoid new outbreaks, the governments and the religious authorities of most Muslim countries have decided to maintain the lockdown and related restrictions.

The lavish banquets, family reunions, and group celebrations that normally mark the end of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting and prayer, have been proscribed.

The holiday will start tomorrow and last until the evening of the next day. Muslims will thank God for giving them strength and blessings, hoping that the holy month will have helped them get closer to God and perfection.

Muhammad celebrated the first Eid in 624 AD after a military victory. The celebrations vary according to branch (Sunni or Shia) and place.

Muslims meet in mosques or in the open air for their first daytime meal; the festival is also an occasion for interfaith meetings.

In Egypt, the authorities ordered all shops, restaurants, parks and beaches closed for the extended holiday; public and private travel is banned until 29 May.

In Dubai, United Arab Emirates, police have been equipped with thermal detectors to measure body temperatures, whilst all public activities have been suspended. The authorities are also cracking down on violators of social distancing, people who don’t wear masks or self-isolate.

In Iran, the government has urged people not to travel for the holiday to avoid another surge in contagions. The country has been the hardest hit in the Middle East. Celebrations will start on Sunday but existing restrictions remain in place, especially since some provinces like Khuzestan, people have failed to respect social distancing and prevention protocols.

Group prayers have also been banned in Turkey, replaced by online and TV sermons and special prayers to keep the spirit of the Eid al-Fitr alive. Communal meals and meetings are prohibited. The lockdown and restrictions have reduced the number of cases.

In Iraq, the capital Baghdad remains under lockdown and curfew as the country reports its highest daily increase of COVID-19 with 153 cases

Restrictions, gatherings and social distancing remain in effect throughout the festival, threatening the survival of many businesses that normally rely on the Eid for a good chunk of their turnover.

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