Muslims around the world observe Eid al-Fitr with joy, worry

Agencies
May 2, 2022

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Cairo, May 2: For the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Fitr, the smell of freshly baked orange biscuits and powdered sugar-dusted cookies typically fills the air in Mona Abubakr's home. But due to higher prices, the Egyptian housewife this year made smaller quantities of the sweet treats, some of which she gives as gifts to relatives and neighbours.

The mother of three has also tweaked another tradition this Eid, which began Monday in Egypt and many Muslim-majority countries and marks the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. She bought fewer outfits for her sons to wear during the three-day feast.

“I told them we have to compromise on some things in order to be able to afford other things,” she said.

This year, Muslims around the world are observing Eid al-Fitr — typically marked with communal prayers, celebratory gatherings around festive meals and new clothes — in the shadow of a surge in global food prices exacerbated by the war in Ukraine. Against that backdrop, many are still determined to enjoy the Eid amid easing of coronavirus restrictions in their countries while, for others, the festivities are dampened by conflict and economic hardship.

At the largest mosque in Southeast Asia, tens of thousands of Muslims attended prayers Monday morning. The Istiqlal Grand Mosque in Indonesia's capital Jakarta was shuttered when Islam's holiest period coincided with the start of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 and was closed to communal prayers last year.

“Words can't describe how happy I am today after two years we were separated by pandemic. Today we can do Eid prayer together again," said Epi Tanjung after he and his wife worshipped at another Jakarta mosque. “Hopefully all of this will make us more faithful.”

The war in Ukraine and sanctions on Russia have disrupted supplies of grain and fertilizer, driving up food prices at a time when inflation was already raging. A number of Muslim-majority countries are heavily reliant on Russia and Ukraine for much of their wheat imports, for instance.

Even before the Russian invasion, an unexpectedly strong global recovery from the 2020 coronavirus recession had created supply chain bottlenecks, causing shipping delays and pushing prices of food and other commodities higher.

In some countries, the fallout from the war in Ukraine is only adding to the woes of those already suffering from turmoil, displacement or poverty.

In Syria's rebel-held northwestern province of Idlib, Ramadan this year was more difficult than Ramadans past. Abed Yassin said he, his wife and three children now receive half the amounts of products — including chickpeas, lentils, rice and cooking oil — which last year they used to get from an aid group. It has made life more difficult.

Syria's economy has been hammered by war, Western sanctions, corruption and an economic meltdown in neighbouring Lebanon where Syrians have billions of dollars stuck in Lebanese banks.

In the Gaza Strip, though streets and markets are bustling, many say they cannot afford much.

“The situation is difficult,” said Um Musab, a mother of five, as she toured a traditional market in Gaza City. “Employees barely make a living but the rest of the people are crushed.”

Mahmoud al-Madhoun, who bought some date paste, flour and oil to make Eid cookies, said financial conditions were going from bad to worse. “However, we are determined to rejoice,” he added.

The Palestinian enclave, which relies heavily on imports, was already vulnerable before the Ukraine war as it had been under a tight Israeli-Egyptian blockade meant to isolate Hamas, its militant rulers.

Afghans are celebrating the first Eid since the Taliban takeover amid grim security and economic conditions. Many were cautious but poured into Kabul's largest mosques for prayers on Sunday, when the holiday started there, amid tight security.

Frequent explosions marred the period leading to Eid. These included fatal bombings, most claimed by the Islamic State affiliate known as IS in Khorasan Province, targeting ethnic Hazaras who are mostly Shiites, leaving many of them debating whether it was safe to attend Eid prayers at mosques.

“We want to show our resistance, that they cannot push us away,” said community leader Dr. Bakr Saeed before Eid. “We will go forward.”

Violence wasn't the only cause for worry. Since the Taliban takeover in August, Afghanistan's economy has been in a freefall with food prices and inflation soaring.

At a charity food distribution centre in Kabul on Saturday, Din Mohammad, a father of 10, said he expected this Eid to be his worst.

“With poverty, no one can celebrate Eid like in the past,” he said. “I wish we had jobs and work so we could buy something for ourselves, not have to wait for people to give us food.”

Muslims follow a lunar calendar, and methodologies, including moon sighting, can lead to different countries — or Muslim communities — declaring the start of Eid on different days.

In Iraq, fewer shoppers than usual appeared to have visited the capital's clothing markets this year. Security issues also plague celebrations, with security forces going on high alert from Sunday to Thursday to avert possible attacks after a suicide bombing in Baghdad last year ahead of another major Islamic holiday killed dozens.

In India, the country's Muslim minority is reeling from vilification by hardline Hindu nationalists who have long espoused anti-Muslim stances, with some inciting against Muslims. Tensions boiled over into violence at Ramadan, including stone-throwing between Hindu and Muslim groups.

Muslim preachers cautioned the faithful to remain vigilant during Eid.

Indian Muslims “are proactively preparing themselves to deal with the worst,” said Ovais Sultan Khan, a rights activist. “Nothing is as it used to be for Muslims in India, including the Eid.”

Still, many Muslims elsewhere rejoiced in reviving rituals disrupted by pandemic restrictions.

Millions of Indonesians have crammed into trains, ferries and buses ahead of Eid as they poured out of major cities to celebrate with their families in villages in the world's most populous Muslim-majority country. The return of the tradition of homecoming caused great excitement after two years of subdued festivities due to pandemic restrictions.

“The longing for (the) Eid celebration in a normal way has finally been relieved today although the pandemic has not yet ended,” said Hadiyul Umam, a resident of Jakarta.

Many in the capital flocked to shopping centres to buy clothes, shoes and sweets before the holiday despite pandemic warnings and food price surges.

Muslims in Malaysia were also in a celebratory mood after their country's borders fully reopened and Covid-19 measures were further loosened. Ramadan bazaars and shopping malls have been filled with shoppers ahead of Eid and many travelled to their hometowns.

“It's a blessing that we can now go back to celebrate,” said sales manager Fairuz Mohamad Talib, who works in Kuala Lumpur. His family will celebrate at his wife's village after two years of being apart due to earlier travel curbs.

There, he said, they will visit neighbours after the Eid prayers, glorifying Allah and sending salutations upon Prophet Muhammad, and sharing food at each stop.

“It's not about feasting but about getting together,” he said ahead of the holiday. With Covid-19 still on his mind, the family will take precautions such as wearing masks during visits. “There will be no handshakes, just fist bumps.” 

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News Network
June 20,2022

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Bengaluru, June 20: Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Bengaluru on Monday on a two-day visit to Karnataka, during which he will be participating in a series of events in the city and Mysuru, and inaugurate or lay foundation for various developmental works.

Laying the foundation stone for Bengaluru Suburban Railway Project, inauguration of Dr BR Ambedkar School of Economics (BASE), participating in the International Yoga Day event and visit to Chamundi hills to offer prayers to Goddess Chamundeshwari, the reigning deity of Mysuru and Suttur Mutt, a prominent Lingayat seminary, are among the key highlights of the visit.

PM Modi was received at the Yelahanka Airforce Station here by Governor Thaawarchand Gehlot, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, veteran BJP leader BS Yediyurappa, and state party chief Nalin Kumar Kateel.

Union Minister Pralhad Joshi, several of Bommai's cabinet colleagues, Members of Parliament, legislators, and officials were among those present.

Elaborate security arrangements have been made both in Bengaluru and Mysuru for the PM's visit.

Before leaving for Bengaluru from New Delhi, PM Modi tweeted both in Kannada and English sharing details of his visit.

"Leaving for Karnataka, where I will be attending programmes in Bengaluru and Mysuru. The first programme will be held at @iiscbangalore, where a Centre for Brain Research would be inaugurated. The foundation stone of the Bagchi-Parthasarathy Multispeciality Hospital will be laid," PM Modi tweeted.

"This afternoon, I will be at the Dr. BR Ambedkar School of Economics (BASE), Bengaluru to inaugurate a new campus of BASE University and unveil the statue of Dr B. R. Ambedkar. 150 tech hubs would also be dedicated to the nation. These have been developed by transforming ITIs," he said.

Noting that during a programme in Bengaluru, development works worth over ₹ 27,000 crore would either be inaugurated or their foundation stones would be laid, the PM said these works cover diverse sectors and will boost 'Ease of Living' for the people of Bengaluru and surrounding areas.

"I will reach Mysuru at around 5:30 PM and there too, key development works would either be inaugurated or their foundation stones would be laid. I will also be attending a programme at Suttur Math. Tomorrow morning, the Yoga Day programme will also take place in Mysuru," he added.

Responding to PM's tweet, CM Bommai welcoming him said, " I thank him for choosing our land which is blessed with rich fauna & flora, to celebrate the International Yoga Day in the year of #AzadiKaAmritMahotsav."

"Heartfelt gratitude to Hon'ble PM @narendramodi Ji for being a part of the celebration of development projects in diverse sectors, worth over ₹ 27,000 crores.

These projects will boost 'Ease of Living' for the people of Bengaluru & the neighbouring areas," he added.

As per the Prime Minister's itinerary, Modi after IISC and BASE events, will reach Kommaghatta to dedicate to the nation various projects in Bengaluru including the inauguration of "India's one and the only and first Air Conditioned" Railway Station, which is in Bayyappana Halli.

He will also lay the Foundation Stone for the Bengaluru Suburban Railway Projects and Six National Highway Projects in Karnataka worth ₹ 7,231 crore, comprising various five National Highway Projects and one Multi-Model Logistic Park Projects in the same venue.

PM Modi will then leave for Mysuru, where he will lay the foundation stone for the new coaching complex to be established at Naganahalli and then, proceed to All India Institute of Speech and Hearing (AIISH) and dedicate the Centre of Excellence there. Besides, he will interact with the beneficiaries of the central government scheme at the same venue.

He will dedicate 'Veda Patashala' building and release commentaries on Yoga and Bhakthi at Suttur Math.

The PM will visit Chamundi Hills the same evening and have the Darshan of Goddess Sri Chamundeshwari at the Sri Chamundeshwari Temple and return to Mysuru and halt there on that day.

On June 21, PM Modi will participate in the International Day of Yoga with the theme "Yoga for Humanity" organized by the Department of Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Sidda and Homoeopathy ( AYUSH ), at the Palace premises, and leave for New Delhi the same morning.

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News Network
June 22,2022

Mumbai, June 22: A Maharashtra Shiv Sena minister, who is among the dissidents led by party leader Eknath Shinde, on Wednesday said they do not have any complaints against the Sena leadership, but they have been upset with the style of function of the NCP and Congress, the other two ruling alliance partners in the state.

The Shiv Sena MLAs, who have rebelled against the party, plunging the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in Maharashtra into a crisis, arrived in Assam's Guwahati city by a chartered flight on Wednesday.

Speaking to a TV channel over phone, Maharashtra minister Sandipan Bhumare, who is among the dissidents, said, "We do not have any complaints against the Shiv Sena leadership. We have raised our complaints with Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, that it was getting difficult to work with the NCP and Congress ministers. It was very difficult for us to get our proposals and work requests approved from their ministers.”

To a query, Bhumare said he was given a cabinet portfolio and was satisfied with it. "What else do I need in life. But, as a people's representative, I need to address the grievances of my people. I could not do it properly because of these two alliance partners,” he added.

Meanwhile, another dissident Sena MLA Sanjay Shirsath told a TV channel that 35 party legislators were in Guwahati. "A couple of more MLAs will join us by today evening. We also have the support of three independent MLAs,” he claimed.

Shirsath also targeted state NCP and Congress ministers and claimed their "hostile behaviour" forced the Sena legislators to revolt. 

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News Network
June 24,2022

Bengaluru, June 24: BJP leader and Food and Civil Supplies Minister Umesh Katti has said that Karnataka will be divided into two and India will have 50 new states after the next Lok Sabha elections. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself will take the initiative on this issue, Katti added.

Katti, a vocal proponent of separate statehood for north Karnataka, , made the statement at a Belagavi Bar Association event on Wednesday. A video of his speech has now gone viral.

“A debate is trending on social media that over 50 states will be formed in the country after next Lok Sabha polls. It is for sure that North Karnataka will also become a separate state on the basis of population spread across Karnataka. After the 2024 elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself will form new states. Maharashtra will become three, Karnataka two, and Uttar Pradesh will become four states,” Katti said.

Saying that Bengaluru city is overcrowded, lacks water supply for citizens who have to spend hours in traffic jams, Katti said that it was high time that IT companies thought beyond Bengaluru. North Karnataka has huge potential, he said, urging people to join hands to demand a north Karnataka state.

Katti, who represents Hukkeri Assembly constituency, has demanded separate statehood for north Karnataka in the past too, causing embarrassment to the ruling BJP. In 2019, Katti demanded then chief minister B S Yediyurappa award separate statehood to north Karnataka.

In 2021, Katti courted controversy by saying that people “low on confidence” in fighting coronavirus could not be saved.

Siddaramaiah slams

Meanwhile, former chief minister and Congress Legislature Party leader Siddaramaiah on Thursday criticised Katti saying “to even think of dividing the state was equivalent to betraying mother, motherland and mother tongue.”

“Many Kannadigas had sacrificed everything to realise a unified Karnataka. To even think of dividing our state is equivalent to betraying mother, motherland and mother tongue. Minister Umesh Katti has revealed that the discussions are being held at Prime Minister @narendramodi’s level to divide Karnataka. This is a very dangerous development,” Siddaramaiah tweeted.

Siddaramaiah also sought a clarification from Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on the issue. “@PMOIndia @CMofKarnataka  @BSBommai should issue clarification about this. This is not the first time Minister Umesh Katti has made such statements,” the former CM said.

CM disowns statement

Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Thursday disowned the statement of his cabinet. “There is no thinking or proposal at the government level at all on a separate state of North Karnataka,” Bommai told reporters in New Delhi.   

“This is not the first time Umesh Katti has spoken about it. He has been saying it for many years. He should himself reply to this question”, he shot back to a query posed by reporters.

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