Celebration and mourning for Muslims worldwide

The world’s Muslims on Sunday marked the Eid al-Adha feast which caps the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, overshadowed by the Arab Spring and deadly attacks in Africa and Central Asia.

This year the feast coincides with the turmoil of the democracy protests that swept the Arab world and led to the ouster of the autocratic leaders of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.

Eid al-Adha, or the Feast of Sacrifice, honours Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael on the order of God, who according to Islamic tradition provided a lamb in the boy’s place.

It was being observed amid fears and tears in Nigeria, two days after attacks claimed by Islamists killed at least 150 people in the north-eastern city of Damaturu.

Thousands gathered for prayers to mark the feast at an open ground in Damaturu patrolled by dozens of armed police following Friday’s gun and bomb attacks, among the deadliest ever carried out by the Boko Haram Islamist sect.

“It’s a season of mourning and celebration at the same time,” said Damaturu resident Aisami Bundi.

“People are struggling to strike a balance between the merriment of the season and the losses the city has incurred from the attacks, especially the large number of people that have been killed,” he said.

Money and peace
In Libya, people were struggling to find the funds to mark the feast due to skyrocketing prices in the wake of an eight-month rebellion that ended with the killing of dictator Muammar Gaddafi last month.

In Syria, devotees emerged from Eid al-Adha prayers on Sunday morning to rally against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime despite a protest crackdown the UN says has killed at least 3 000 people since March.

And the security forces shot dead at least another 10 civilians, most of them in the restive central city of Homs, according to human rights activists.

The latest bloodshed came as Syrian state radio reported al-Assad himself attended Al-Nur mosque in the northern town of Raqqa for morning prayers to mark the Muslim holy day.

In Yemen, where protesters have been calling for President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s ouster since January, dissident general Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar said his forces foiled a regime plot to blow up a car as he prayed in Sana’a.

In Gaza City, Ismail Haniya, head of the Islamist Hamas government, addressed worshippers at the Palestine Mosque, and hailed the feast as the Eid of Freedom for the Arab world.

“On this blessed day, we call our Eid the Eid of Freedom,” he said. “It is the Eid of Freedom for Egypt and Tunisia and Libya and all the peoples who triumphed over tyranny.

Haniya said the feast was also an Eid of Victory, hailing a landmark prisoner swap deal that saw the movement free captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in return for 1 027 jailed Palestinians.

A first group of 477 prisoners was released as Shalit went home, with the second group of 550 to be freed within two months.

In Saudi Arabia, almost three-million pilgrims began stoning pillars representing Satan after massing in a valley near the holy city of Mina, the last and most dangerous rite of the annual hajj.

Hundreds of people have been trampled to death in stampedes which have blighted several previous pilgrimages to Islam’s holiest sites when the faithful rush to hurl stones at the huge pillars.

“This ritual gives me moral strength. Right now I feel as though I’m defeating Satan,” said Mokhtar Khan, a 29-year-old who arrived at the site with dozens of fellow Bangladeshis who chanted “Allahu Akbar” (God is greatest).

More deaths
But despite their prayers, the first day of Eid al-Adha was marred by more violence around the Muslim world.

Elsewhere in Afghanistan, a suicide bomber killed seven people, mostly civilians, as they returned from Eid prayers at a mosque in the northern city of Baghlan.

And in Iraq, four bombs exploded in Baghdad’s Shorjah market, killing at least one person and wounding eight, security officials said.

The blasts came despite beefed up security for the festival around mosques, parks and other public areas, including a 32 000-strong force in the central Shiite shrine city of Najaf.

In Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country, Eid al-Adha was marked by all-night prayer, the sacrifice of goats and cows and family meals of rice cakes and meat dishes.

In line with tradition, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono offered a 1.2-tonne cow for sacrifice after prayers at Jakarta’s Istiqlal mosque, which is to slaughter 60 cows and 27 goats for meat to be distributed to 10 000 people.

The Eid is starting on Monday in some parts of the Muslim world including Iran, Pakistan and Bangladesh, where at least eight people died in railway accidents as tens of millions poured out of cities for a five-day holiday. — AFP

Abdel Hadi
Guest Author
Al Habtoor
Guest Author

The death of Enoch Mpianzi at Parktown Boys is a...

Ignore the language used in brochures and on open days and be vigilant about the details

Study unpacks the ‘hidden racism’ at Stellenbosch

Students say they feel unseen and unheard at the university because of their skin colour

Failure to investigate TRC cases during the Mandela era delayed...

Counsel for late trade unionist Neil Aggett’s family decries the slow pace of instituting an inquest into his death

Courts to guide land expropriation

Two bits of law need to be approved before a court can decide if land owners will be compensated

Press Releases

MTN unveils TikTok bundles

Customised MTN TikTok data bundles are available to all prepaid customers on *136*2#.

Marketers need to reinvent themselves

Marketing is an exciting discipline, offering the perfect fit for individuals who are equally interested in business, human dynamics and strategic thinking. But the...

Upskill yourself to land your dream job in 2020

If you received admission to an IIE Higher Certificate qualification, once you have graduated, you can articulate to an IIE Diploma and then IIE Bachelor's degree at IIE Rosebank College.

South Africans unsure of what to expect in 2020

Almost half (49%) of South Africans, 15 years and older, agree or strongly agree that they view 2020 with optimism.

KZN teacher educators jet off to Columbia University

A group of academics were selected as participants of the programme focused on PhD completion, mobility, supervision capacity development and the generation of high-impact research.

New-style star accretion bursts dazzle astronomers

Associate Professor James O Chibueze and Dr SP van den Heever are part of an international team of astronomers studying the G358-MM1 high-mass protostar.

2020 risk outlook: Use GRC to build resilience

GRC activities can be used profitably to develop an integrated risk picture and response, says ContinuitySA.

MTN voted best mobile network

An independent report found MTN to be the best mobile network in SA in the fourth quarter of 2019.