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Worldwide Muslims celebrate the end of Eid; tensions remain high

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
August 8th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Those of the Muslim faith celebrated the end of Eid today. Fasting now makes way for feasts and other festivities over the next three days. The merriment was not enough to quell unrest in many parts of the Middle East, however, as Syria continued its ongoing hostilities between government forces and insurgents.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Mortars pounded an upscale district of Damascus where Syrian President Bashar al-Assad previously attended holiday prayers at a mosque.

The Eid al-Fitr holiday includes three days of festivities after a month of prayer and dawn-to-dusk fasting for Ramadan. It is during Eid that Muslims abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and sex as a way to test their faith. In spite of the holiday's purported peaceful message, many Islamic nations remained on high alert during the holidays.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai took a moment after Eid prayers in a speech to thank security forces fighting the insurgency. He also called for the Taliban to lay down their arms and join the political process.

The world's most populous Muslim nation, Indonesia, observed the end of Eid with believers donning new clothes and attending services at mosques. Eid is typically a day of reflection, forgiveness and charity. In the nation's capital of Jakarta, cars were seen handing out envelopes to the poor and needy.

Indonesian authorities remained on high alert, however after a small bomb exploded in Jakarta earlier this week outside a packed Buddhist temple. Only one person was injured and two other explosive devices failed to detonate. The attack appears to have been carried out by militant Muslims angry over sectarian violence in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, authorities said.

Gen. Timur Pradopo, Indonesia's National Police chief says that he has mobilized thousands of officers to help safeguard the millions involved in the mass exodus across the country, an archipelago of some 17,000 islands.

In the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi, about 100 Muslims braved a stormy morning to pray at the city's sole mosque. The Vietnamese imam gave a sermon in Arabic and then English to the congregation, which comprised mainly expatriates. Vietnam is also home to some 60,000 indigenous Muslims, most of them in the south.

In the mean time, the military clashed with fighters from the militant Muslim group Abu Sayyaf in the Philippines. One soldier was killed along with an estimated seven militants. According to local Army Commander Col. Carlito Galvez, the operation was based on information that the group was building bombs to be used in attacks in southern cities at the end of Ramadan. The latest violence follows two weeks of bomb attacks across the volatile southern Philippines that has killed 16 people and wounded about 100.

Tensions are also running high in Thailand. There has been escalated insurgency attacks at the end of the Ramadan period in the three Muslim-dominated southernmost provinces that border with Malaysia.

"The end of Ramadan is the period the insurgents will attempt to show off their strategies and attacks," Col. Jaroon Ampha, an adviser to the National Security Council says.

Muslims believe God revealed the first verses of the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad during Ramadan, which starts with the sighting of the new moon. The Muslim lunar calendar moves back through the seasons, meaning Ramadan starts 11 days earlier each year under the Western calendar.

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