Virus fallout dampens festivities as Muslims mark major holiday

al-aqsaMuslims 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 Ramadan 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.


To limit coronavirus contagion, Saudi Arabia has emptied the holiest site in Islam.(Reuters)

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