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    Friday, May 24, 2024

    Muslims worldwide celebrate Eid al-Fitr, but the festivities are marred by the war in Gaza

    A Muslim child stands beside his father performing an Eid al-Fitr prayer with others, marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, Wednesday, April, 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)

    Jakarta, Indonesia — Muslims around the world celebrated the Eid al-Fitr holiday Wednesday, marking the end of the Islamic holy month with family reunions, new clothes and sweet treats.

    But the celebrations were overshadowed by the worsening humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip and Israel’s expected offensive in the city of Rafah despite efforts from its Western allies to halt the fighting after six months of war.

    In Istanbul, thousands of worshippers gathered at the Aya Sofya Mosque for morning Eid prayers, some carrying Palestinian flags and chanting slogans in support of people in Gaza.

    Many laid their prayer rugs in the square in front of the former Byzantine cathedral, which was re-converted to a mosque four years ago, as space inside quickly filled.

    In a holiday message, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sent support to Gaza, which he called a “bleeding wound on the conscience of humanity.”

    “I hope that the Eid will lead to peace, tranquillity and wellbeing for our country, our nation, the Islamic world and all humanity,” he added.

    The war in Gaza was also the focus of prayers at the Rahma Mosque in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

    “We should not forget our brothers and sisters in Palestine,” Imam Abdulrahman Musa said. “They have been subjected to unjustified aggression and a lot of violence (as) the world is watching in silence.”

    In Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, nearly three-quarters of the population were traveling for the annual homecoming known locally as “mudik” that is always welcomed with excitement.

    “Mudik is not just an annual ritual or tradition for us,” said civil servant Ridho Alfian, who lives in the Jakarta area and was traveling to Lampung province at the southern tip of Sumatra island. “This is a right moment to reconnect, like recharging energy that has been drained almost a year away from home.”

    Before the Eid al-Fitr holiday, markets teemed with shoppers buying clothes, shoes, cookies and sweets. People poured out of major cities to return to villages to celebrate the holiday with their loved ones. Flights were overbooked and anxious relatives weighed down with boxes of gifts formed long lines at bus and train stations for the journey.

    For Arini Dewi, Eid al-Fitr is a day of victory from economic difficulties during Ramadan. “I'm happy in celebrating Eid holiday despite the surge of food prices,” said the mother of two.

    Former Vice President Jusuf Kalla was among Jakarta residents offering prayers at the Al Azhar mosque yard. “Let’s celebrate Eid al-Fitr as a day of victory from many difficulties... of course there are many social problems during fasting month of Ramadan, but we can overcome it with faith and piety,” Kalla said.

    On the eve of Eid al-Fitr, Jakarta residents set off firecrackers on streets that were mostly empty after city residents traveled home.

    On Wednesday morning, Muslims joined communal prayers shoulder-to-shoulder on the streets and inside mosques. Jakarta’s Istiqlal Grand Mosque, the largest in Southeast Asia, was flooded with devotees offering morning prayers.

    Preachers in their sermons called on people to pray for Muslims in Gaza who were suffering after six months of war.

    “This is the time for Muslims and non-Muslims to show humanitarian solidarity, because the conflict in Gaza is not a religious war, but a humanitarian problem," said Jimly Asshiddiqie, who chairs the advisory board of the Indonesian Mosque Council.

    In Pakistan, authorities deployed more than 100,000 police and paramilitary forces to maintain security at mosques and marketplaces. People were shopping as usual Tuesday, with women buying bangles, jewelry and clothes for themselves and their children.

    In Malaysia, ethnic Malay Muslims performed morning prayers at mosques nationwide just weeks after socks printed with the word “Allah” at a convenience store chain sparked a furor. Many found it offensive to associate the word with feet or for it to be used inappropriately.

    Malaysia’s Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim called for unity and reconciliation in his message on the eve of Eid, saying no groups should be sidelined based on religion or any other reason.

    “We must be firm, resolute and unwavering in our commitment to foster values and build a dignified nation,” he said. “However, let us not take this as a license or opportunity to insult, undermine, or damage the cultural practices and way of life of others.”

    The owners of the KK Mart chain and representatives from one of its suppliers were charged with offending the religious feelings of Muslims. KK Mart Group said the supplier sent items the company had not agreed to stock. The supply company founder apologized for being careless in the inspection of the imported items.

    Associated Press journalists Andi Jatmiko and Dita Alangkara in Jakarta, Eileen Ng in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Andrew Wilks in Istanbul and Idi Ali Juma in Nairobi, Kenya, contributed to this report.

    Muslims attend prayers at National Mosque for the Eid al-Fitr, marking the end the holy fasting month of Ramadan in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Wednesday, April 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)
    Muslim men perform an Eid al-Fitr prayer marking the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan on a street in Jakarta, Indonesia, Wednesday, April 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)
    Muslims perform an Eid al-Fitr prayer, marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, Wednesday, April, 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)
    Palestinians gather for Eid al-Fitr prayers by the Dome of the Rock shrine in the Al Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City, Wednesday, April 10, 2024. The holiday marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan, when devout Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)
    Muslim women perform an Eid al-Fitr prayer, marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, at historical Badshahi mosque in Lahore, Pakistan, Wednesday, April, 10, 2024. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary)
    A worshipper performs an Eid al-Fitr prayer, marking the end of the Muslims' holy fasting month of Ramadan, in Tehran, Iran, on Wednesday, April 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
    Muslims offer prayers at National Mosque for the Eid al-Fitr, marking the end the holy fasting month of Ramadan in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Wednesday, April 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)
    Muslims perform an Eid al-Fitr prayer, marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, in Karachi, Pakistan, Wednesday, April, 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Fareed Khan)
    A Muslim woman shows her daughter how to pray as they attend prayers at National Mosque for the Eid al-Fitr, marking the end the holy fasting month of Ramadan in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Wednesday, April 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)
    Muslims attend pray at National Mosque for the Eid al-Fitr, marking the end the holy fasting month of Ramadan in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Wednesday, April 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)
    A Muslim woman dons her praying robe as she attends an Eid al-Fitr prayer marking the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan in Jakarta, Indonesia, Wednesday, April 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)
    Muslims perform Eid al-Fitr prayers marking the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan at a field in Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia, Wednesday, April 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Firdia Lisnawati)
    Iranian worshippers perform Eid al-Fitr prayer, marking the end of the Muslims holy fasting month of Ramadan in Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, April 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
    Muslims pray outside a mosque as they celebrate Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of the Muslims' holy fasting month of Ramadan, in St. Petersburg, Russia, Wednesday, April 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)
    A Bosnian Muslim man prays with his son during the first day of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan in Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque in Sarajevo, Bosnia, Wednesday, April 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Armin Durgut)
    Muslim men offer the Eid al-Fitr prayers to mark the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan at the Niujie Mosque in Beijing, China, Wednesday, April 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)
    Muslims try to catch free balloons distributed during Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan, outside al-Seddik mosque in Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, April 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
    Muslim women attend an Eid al-Fitr prayer marking the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan in Jakarta, Indonesia, Wednesday, April 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)
    Muslims celebrate Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan outside al-Seddik mosque in Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, April 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
    Muslim children share Eid greeting after attending an Eid al-Fitr prayer, marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan in Karachi, Pakistan, Wednesday, April, 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Fareed Khan)
    Palestinians visit the graves of their relatives who were killed in the war between Israel and the Hamas militant group on the first day of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, in Deir al-Balah, Gaza, Wednesday, April 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Abdel Kareem Hana)
    Palestinians visit the graves of their relatives who were killed in the war between Israel and the Hamas militant group on the first day of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, in Deir al-Balah, Gaza, Wednesday, April 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Abdel Kareem Hana)
    Muslim women devotees offer Eid al-Fitr prayers to mark the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting, in Nairobi, Kenya Wednesday, April. 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Brian Inganga)
    Muslim devotees offer Eid al-Fitr prayers to mark the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting, in Nairobi, Kenya Wednesday, April. 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Brian Inganga)
    Muslim devotees offer Eid al-Fitr prayers to mark the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting, in Nairobi, Kenya Wednesday, April. 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Brian Inganga)
    Muslim devotees offer Eid al-Fitr prayers to mark the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting, in Nairobi, Kenya Wednesday, April. 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Brian Inganga)
    Muslim devotees offer Eid al-Fitr prayers to mark the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting, in Nairobi, Kenya Wednesday, April. 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Brian Inganga)
    Muslim devotees offer Eid al-Fitr prayers to mark the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting, in Nairobi, Kenya Wednesday, April. 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Brian Inganga)
    Muslim devotees offer Eid al-Fitr prayers to mark the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting, in Nairobi, Kenya Wednesday, April. 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Sayyid Azim)
    Muslim devotees, including women in the background, offer Eid al-Fitr prayers to mark the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting, in Nairobi, Kenya Wednesday, April. 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Brian Inganga)

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