Muslims celebrate feast of sacrifice amidst crises, virus

Over 300 mn Muslims celebrating from Morocco to Afghanistan

31 July, 18:41

    Prayer for the feast of sacrifice at the Hagia Sophia mosque in Istanbul Prayer for the feast of sacrifice at the Hagia Sophia mosque in Istanbul

    BEIRUT - More than 300 million Muslims in North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia are celebrating Eid al-Adha, also called Eid Qurban - the feast of sacrifice - on Friday and for the coming three days. The feast is the main holiday in the Islamic calendar, which recalls Abraham's offering to sacrifice his son.

    Like the pilgrimage to Mecca, in Saudi Arabia, which has been underway for days and is taking place in an extremely reduced format due to anti-Covid measures, Eid al-Adha is also being celebrated in a muted form in nearly all capitals of the Arab-Islamic world. Many cities have been experiencing popular protests due to the serious economic crisis, which is being aggravated by the coronavirus crisis.

    On Friday morning in Istanbul, the first community prayer on a feast day took place at the Hagia Sophia mosque. In Afghanistan, a three-day ceasefire, corresponding to the feast, starts Friday between the government of Kabul and the Taliban. Five hundred Taliban prisoners were released by the central government for the feast. In Mecca, pilgrims making the Hajj - one of the pillars of Islam that every Muslim has to complete at least once in their lifetime - took part in the ritual "stoning of the devil" in which pebbles are thrown at idols and pillars portraying Shaitan (Satan). In Iraq, which is getting ready to mark the 30th anniversary of the start of the Gulf War, the feast was marked by popular anti-government protests and police repression, and by renewed rocket attacks by pro-Iranian militants against US interests in the country.

    In the war-torn Syrian region of Idlib, being fought over by the government and insurgents backed by Russia and Turkey, respectively, local authorities intensified anti-Covid measures, calling on the population to avoid gatherings and family reunions. In nearby Libya, the country is formally once again in a total lockdown from Friday until Monday evening due to a spike in positive cases. However, the deep economic crisis, which existed prior to the coronavirus outbreak, is pushing many people to keep their businesses open anyways.

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