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Muslims Mark End Of Ramadan, But COVID Subdues Celebrations For A Second Year

May 13, 2021
Originally published on May 13, 2021 11:07 am

Some 1.8 billion Muslims around the world are marking Eid al-Fitr, the festival ending the holy month of Ramadan, but the celebration is muted for a second year in a row due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Iranian women wearing protective face masks perform the Eid al-Fitr prayer and pray for Palestinians at Shah Abdol-Azim Shrine amid the coronavirus pandemic in Tehran, Iran on Thursday.
Fatemeh Bahrami / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

In the country with the largest Muslim population, Indonesia, worshippers wore masks as they joined in communal prayers, but in some areas considered at high risk for transmission of the coronavirus, mosques — including Southeast Asia's largest, the Istiqlal Grand Mosque in the capital Jakarta — closed their doors as a precaution, according to The Associated Press.

Indonesian Muslims walk after they perform an Eid al-Fitr prayer on the "sea of sands" in Yogyakarta, Indonesia on Thursday.
Ulet Ifansasti / Getty Images

Indonesia and neighboring Malaysia, which is in the midst of a nationwide lockdown, asked the faithful for a second year not to travel home for traditional celebrations with family to mark Eid, which concludes a month of dawn-to-dusk fasting, prayer and introspection.

Muslims perform the Eid al-Fitr prayer at Jamacadaha Football Stadium on Thursday in Mogadishu, Somalia.
AFP via Getty Images

The lead-up to Eid last year saw Indonesia with the largest number of coronavirus cases in Southeast Asia. Despite the government's ban on travel in 2020, the country failed to stop the spread of the virus and it witnessed a jump in cases in the weeks following the holiday.

"I understand that we all miss our relatives at times like this, especially in the momentum of Eid," Indonesian President Joko Widodo said in televised remarks. "But let's prioritize safety together by not going back to our hometowns."

However, in Bangladesh, tens of thousands of people were heading home. Bangaldesh is experiencing a shortage of coronavirus vaccines but that didn't stop many in the capital, Dhaka, from joining loved ones in villages, leading experts to fear a surge of COVID-19 in the country.

A man wearing a protective face mask and maintaining social distancing performs the Eid al-Fitr prayer at Kocatepe Mosque in Ankara, Turkey on Thursday.
Adem Altan / AFP via Getty Images
Muslim devotees takes a selfie using their mobile phones after offering special prayers at the historic Badshahi Mosque in Lahore, Pakistan.
Arif Ali / AFP via Getty Images

Pakistan's chairman of the official committee that announces the first sighting of the new moon there, marking the official end of Ramadan, urged the public to follow coronavirus precautions, such as wearing masks and avoiding physical contact, during Eid prayers.

In India, with a Muslim population second only to Indonesia, the festival takes place against the backdrop of an unprecedented surge in coronavirus cases and COVID-19 deaths. Many infections have been traced to a massive Hindu festival along the banks of the Ganges River.

Muslims celebrate in front of the Dome of the Rock mosque in Jerusalem's Old City.
Ahmad Gharabli / AFP via Getty Images
People gather at a market in the old city of Hyderabad, India on the occasion of Eid as the government imposes a 10-day lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus on Thursday.
Noah Seelam / AFP via Getty Images
Muslim worshippers perform the Eid al-Fitr morning prayer at the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia's holy city of Mecca to mark the end of the month of Ramadan.
Abdulghani Essa / AFP via Getty Images

Coronavirus outbreaks and new fighting between government forces and Muslim insurgents in the southern Philippine island of Mindanao, has prevented large public prayers. Instead, most are worshipping in their homes. In Maguindanao province, many families displaced by the fighting celebrated as best they could in evacuation camps.

Filipino Muslims eat a meal together as they celebrate Eid at the Garden Mosque in Manila on Thursday.
Ezra Acayan / Getty Images

In the Gaza Strip, the call to prayer sounded amid the rubble of Israel airstrikes in the territory, in the worst outbreak of violence in years. Scores of people have been killed and there is no ceasefire in sight, despite the start of the Eid.

The chief imam in Ghana has issued directives against gatherings to offer Nawafil (optional prayers) to mark Eid. Instead, he has proposed small meetings that adhere to COVID-19 protocols.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.
Muslims pray on a street in Accra, Ghana, on Thursday to mark the end of Ramadan.
Nipah Dennis / AFP via Getty Images
Muslim worshippers pray at al-Azhar mosque in Cairo.
Khaled Desouki / AFP via Getty Images
Albanian Muslims pray at Skenderbeg Square in Tirana to mark the end of Ramadan.
Gent Shkullaku / AFP via Getty Images
A Hui Muslim woman wears a mask at Eid al-Fitr prayers on Thursday at the historic Niujie Mosque in Beijing, China.
Kevin Frayer / Getty Images
Turkish Amphibious Marine Brigade soldiers attend Eid al-Fitr celebration ceremony as they spend the holiday on duty in Foca, Izmir, Turkey.
Anadolu Agency / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Muslim worshippers pray at a soccer stadium in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Thursday as Muslims across the globe mark the end of Ramadan.
Amanuel Sileshi / AFP via Getty Images
Muslims leave after the Eid al-Fitr prayer at Bradford Central Mosque in Bradford, northern England.
Oli Scarff / AFP via Getty Images
Muslim worshippers perform the Eid al-Fitr morning prayer at Dubai's Eid Musalla in the Gulf emirate's old port area.
Karim Sahib / AFP via Getty Images