Virus fallout dampens spirits as Muslims mark major holiday

Virus fallout dampens spirits as Muslims mark major holiday

Virus fallout dampens spirits as Muslims mark major holiday

By / World News / Friday, 22 May 2020 08:34
Jerusalem, May 22-Muslims worldwide will celebrate one of their biggest holidays under the long shadow of the coronavirus, with millions confined to their homes and others gripped by economic concerns during what is usually a festive time of shopping and celebration. The three-day Eid al-Fitr marks the end of the fasting month of Ramzan for the world's 1.8 billion Muslims. People usually celebrate by travelling, visiting family and gathering for lavish meals — all of which will be largely prohibited as authorities try to prevent new virus outbreaks. The holiday will begin on Saturday or Sunday, depending on the sighting of the new moon, and the dawn-to-dusk fasting of Ramadan will come to an end. Some countries, including Turkey, Iraq and Jordan, will impose round-the-clock curfews for the duration of the holiday. In Saudi Arabia — home to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina — people will only be allowed to leave their homes to buy food and medicine. But even in countries that have largely reopened, the holiday won't be the same. Most restrictions have been lifted in Jerusalem, but the Al-Aqsa mosque compound — the third holiest site in Islam — will remain closed until after the holiday. Shopkeepers in the Old City, which has been emptied of tourists and pilgrims since March, are reeling from the effects of six weeks of lockdown. The Jafar family's famous sweets shop in the Old City is normally a hive of activity, with tourists and locals enjoying knafeh, a syrupy cheese-filled pastry. These days the seating area is empty and dark as only takeout is allowed. "It had a huge impact on us,” said Ali Jafar, one of the owners, as he worked the counter. He said business has dropped by more than two thirds, forcing them to lay off 10 workers. In Egypt, authorities have extended the nighttime curfew, which will now begin at 5 pm instead of 9 pm, and halted public transportation until May 29. Shopping centers, malls, beaches and parks — which would ordinarily be packed — will be closed. Manal Zakaria, who lives in the city of Alexandria on the Mediterranean coast, said her family usually celebrates by gathering for big meals, singing, dancing and taking group photos. “I am very, very, very sad because I will not be seeing my siblings and their children," she said. "No matter how much we talk over the phone, there is nothing like coming together.” The virus causes mild to moderate symptoms in most people, who recover within a few weeks. But it is highly contagious and can cause severe illness or death, particularly in older patients or those with underlying health problems.

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Hum Hindustani

Hum Hindustani

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