Muslims mark Eid al-Adha around the world

RIYADH — Muslims around the world on Tuesday marked Eid al-Adha with prayers and ritual sacrifices, but celebrations in some countries were overshadowed by war, natural disaster and soaring livestock prices.

By (AFP)

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Published: Tue 16 Nov 2010, 10:15 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 4:03 PM

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.

In Saudi cities, the ritual sacrifices of sheep and goats began just after the dawn prayer. Chopping and pounding could be heard from behind the walls of great villas in downtown Riyadh, and blood was washing out into the streets.

For the almost 2.8 million people on the Islamic Haj in Mecca, it was a day for the ritual stoning of the devil, or Ibleess.

“We are expelling the devil from our minds,” said Jordanian Marwan Mashah, after throwing seven pebbles at one of the stone structures symbolising Satan.

For the hajj pilgrims, though, the animal sacrifices for Eid al-Adha are mostly a hands-off affair.

The pilgrims buy coupons — available online and at ATMs — under a programme managed by the Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank, to have a goat or sheep or camel slaughtered on their behalf, after which the meat is frozen and sent off to the needy in 24 countries.

Eid was marked with morning prayers at mosques across war-torn Afghanistan, where NATO forces are fighting an increasingly deadly Taliban insurgency.

The streets of the capital Kabul have been filled for days with livestock for the ritual sacrifice to mark the holiday, which also saw crowds of children take to the streets to play and fly kites.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai used his annual Eid address to the nation to again urge the Taliban to join peace talks, despite the insurgents’ leadership ruling out negotiations.

The hardline group’s reclusive, one-eyed leader Mullah Omar said on Monday in his own statement to mark Eid that reports of their involvement in peace talks were “misleading rumours.”

Most of Pakistan’s Muslims faced skipping the livestock sacrifice as cattle prices have more than doubled in the wake of the country’s fatal floods.

“So many animals were killed by the floods — this is basically the reason for the high rates,” Hijab Khan, a cattle trader at a market in the outskirts of the northwestern city of Peshawar, told AFP.

In the troubled Muslim-majority region of Indian Kashmir, many families celebrated the holiday in a low-key manner after months of curfews and violent clashes between separatist protesters and the security forces that have left 11 dead since June.

“There will be no celebrations in this house,” said Misra Bano, whose son Fayaz Ahmed Wani, 29, died during shooting by security forces in the region’s summer capital of Srinagar in July.

Muslim separatists in Kashmir have called for austerity during Eid.

Austerity also marked Eid in the impoverished Gaza Strip, where the Israeli blockade has hiked Palestinian unemployment and left many families with little spare cash for the four-day holiday.

In Indonesia, the most populous Muslim nation, about 2,000 refugees who have fled their homes because of the threats of Merapi volcano’s heat clouds marked Eid with prayers at the Maguwoharjo stadium in Sleman district on Tuesday, 25 kilometres (15.5 miles) away from the crater.

In Magelang district, refugees held their prayers while wearing masks to protect themselves from volcanic ash, according to Detik news website.

At least 259 people were killed since Merapi started erupting late last month, and more than 390,000 people have been forced to live in makeshift camps.

Not all Muslims, however, began celebrating Eid al-Adha on Tuesday.

Celebrations in Iraq, where leaders last week signed a power-sharing deal more than eight months after parliamentary elections, were marked by the differing interpretations of its Sunni and Shiite Muslim communities.

Sunni worshippers began marking the occasion on Tuesday, with Shiite festivities not due to begin until Wednesday, resulting in a five-day holiday for the country, compared to the four-day norm in the region.

Baghdad’s normally bumper-to-bumper traffic was nowhere to be seen on Tuesday morning, with normally one-hour journeys condensed to 15 minutes as the capital’s residents rested or went on holiday.

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