Virus fallout dampens spirits as Muslims mark major holiday

Virus fallout dampens spirits as Muslims mark major holiday

Muslims worldwide will celebrate one among their biggest holidays under the long shadow of the coronavirus, with millions confined to their homes et al. gripped by economic concerns during what's usually a festive time of shopping and celebration.

The three-day Eid al-Fitr marks the top of the fasting month of Ramadan for the world's 1.8 billion Muslims. People usually celebrate by traveling, visiting family and gathering for lavish meals - all of which can be largely prohibited as authorities attempt to prevent new virus outbreaks.

The holiday will begin on Saturday or Sunday, counting on the sighting of the new phase of the moon , and therefore 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 vacation . In Saudi Arabia - home to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina - people will only be allowed to go away their homes to shop for food and medicine.

But even in countries that have largely reopened, the vacation won't be an equivalent .

Most restrictions are lifted in Jerusalem, but the Al-Aqsa mosque compound - the third holiest site in Islam - will remain closed until after the vacation . Shopkeepers within the Old City, which has been emptied of tourists and pilgrims since March, are reeling from the consequences of six weeks of lockdown.

The Jafar family's famous sweets shop within the Old City is generally a hive of activity, with tourists and locals enjoying knafeh, a syrupy cheese-filled pastry. lately the seating is empty and dark as only takeout is allowed.

"It had an enormous impact on us," said Ali Jafar, one among the owners, as he worked the counter. He said business has dropped by quite two thirds, forcing them to get off 10 workers.

In Egypt, authorities have extended the nighttime curfew, which can now begin at 5 p.m. rather than 9 p.m., and halted public transportation until May 29. Shopping centers, malls, beaches and parks - which might ordinarily be packed - are going to be closed.

Manal Zakaria, who lives within the city of Alexandria on the Mediterranean coast, said her family usually celebrates by gathering for giant meals, singing, dancing and taking group photos.

"I am very, very, very sad because i will be able to not be seeing my siblings and their children," she said. "No matter what proportion we hash out the phone, there's nothing like coming together."

The virus causes mild to moderate symptoms in most of the people , who recover within a couple of weeks. But it's highly contagious and may cause severe illness or death, particularly in older patients or those with underlying health problems.

In Indonesia, the most important Muslim-majority country, President Joko Widodo said restrictions would remain in situ through the vacation . The country, with a population of 270 million, has reported quite 18,000 cases, including around 1,200 deaths.

"I emphasize, there's no relaxing the policy of large-scale social restriction yet," Widodo said during a virtual Cabinet meeting on Monday.

Since the beginning of the Ramadan, the govt has imposed an outright ban on "mudik," a vacation tradition during which many Indonesians living in big cities flock to their hometowns to celebrate with relatives. Health experts had warned it could depart a wave of latest cases.

"This ongoing pandemic has changed our tradition, separated us in celebrating Eid," said Noor Hidayat Asri, a official in Indonesia's capital, Jakarta. "We are like handling a merciless and invisible enemy this point around."

Malaysia will allow people to go to relatives who live nearby, but such gatherings are limited to twenty people. Visitors are urged to wear face masks and to refrain from hugging, kissing and sharing plates. Some mosques have reopened, but congregations are limited to 30 people.

India's 172 million Muslims also are preparing for a subdued holiday, with large gatherings banned. they need faced heightened stigma, threats and boycotts by many Hindus, who blame the local outbreak on a three-day convention of Islamic missionaries held in March.

In some states, Indian Muslims have launched campaigns urging people to refrain from buying new clothes for the vacation and instead give to the needy.

In Iran, which has endured the deadliest outbreak within the Middle East , authorities have imposed few restrictions before the vacation apart from cancelling mass prayers in Tehran traditionally led by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Iran has faced criticism for not imposing the type of lockdown seen elsewhere within the region, but authorities have said that they had to weigh the consequences on an economy eviscerated by US sanctions. Iran has reported nearly 130,000 cases and quite 7,000 deaths, but the speed of latest infections has declined in recent weeks.

In Iraq, the govt has allowed most businesses to reopen within the previous couple of weeks but plans to reinstate a 24-hour curfew over the vacation . The streets were busy within the days leading up to Eid as people shopped for garments , toys and residential appliances.

"Many people buy presents for Eid. It's good business for us," Ahmed Hashem said as he arranged bicycles outside his shop. "The past few months are difficult."

In war-ravaged Somalia, authorities have urged the cancellation of huge gatherings and celebrations, but it's unclear whether which will be enforced. Shoppers have packed into markets and shopping centers within the capital, Mogadishu, in recent days.

In the United Arab Emirates, home to the futuristic commercial hub of Dubai, parks and personal beaches are going to be open but groups are going to be limited to 5 people. Children under 12 and adults over 60 are barred from malls in Dubai and Abu Dhabi , and other restrictions limit the amount of individuals allowed inside. Restaurants can only operate at 30% of capacity.

Despite the more relaxed approach aimed toward buoying the economy, the govt announced a nationwide curfew during Eid al-Fitr lasting from 8 pm to six am.