In 2016, Eid al-Fitr coincided with a three-day ceasefire that the Syrian army has declared. Syria is facing many struggles between the army and rebel alliances or militant jihadis like the Islamic State or the al-Nusra Front. Despite these conflicts, during the Eid al-Fitr, officials installed a “regime of silence,” for 72 hours, from July 6 to July 8.
Eid al-Fitr is a three-day festival which marks the end of Islam’s holy month of Ramadan, a month of abstinence from consuming food or liquids, smoking or having sex, from sunrise to sunset. Meaning “festival of breaking the fast,” the celebration starts with zakat al-Fitr, a tradition which says that the rich families have to give away a food contribution for every house member. Then, some special prayers are said in mosques and other open-air spaces. Muslim families and communities from all across the globe meet to celebrate with feasts and prayers.
Eid al-Fitr Coincided With a Ceasefire
In order to have a quiet celebration, the Syrian army announced a three-day ceasefire that coincided with Eid al-Fitr. A rebel alliance agreed to the “regime of silence.” The Free Syrian Army (FSA) declared that they would respect the ceasefire as long as the government forces did.
However, other radical groups believed that the announcement was made to escape the international pressure, without changing anything on a national level. Moreover, the attacks did not stop. On July 6, the city of Aleppo has been hit, during Eid al-Fitr prayers. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a person was killed and several injured near a mosque.
Syrian media officials reported other incidents that took place on the first day of Eid festival. Five air strikes occurred in the city of Jisr al-Shughour, killing two children and wounding others. Furthermore, the town of Maydaa was liberated by the government and its allies from the Jaish al-Islam rebel faction, after numerous battles.
U.S. Welcomed the Announcement
Although it looks like the ceasefire agreement is not respected, the announcement of the truce has been very well received by the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. According to the “Christian Science Monitor,” he appealed to both the government and the rebel alliances to respect the “regime of silence,” during the Eid al-Fitr festival.
“We are trying very hard to grow these current discussions in a longer-lasting, real, enforceable, cessation of hostilities,” mentioned Kerry, who also said that these three days could be “a harbinger of possibilities to come.” Despite this, Eid al-Fitr celebration was stained with blood after the multiple battles.
Eid al-Fitr Celebrated Globally
While in Syria Eid al-Fitr coincided with a three-day ceasefire, Muslims from all around the globe celebrate the end of Ramadan’s month with both simplicity and pomposity. According to “Al Jazeera,” Eid al-Fitr is beginning to resemble with the Western Christmas, which is an intensely commercialized holiday.
Eid has seen a continued consumerist tradition. However, the celebration has not lost its religious aspect. Modern women are not concerned with baking large amounts of sweets which they can buy from any store. Also, TV shows are replaced by programs that have numerous interruptions by ads.
Despite all the Muslims problems that affect numerous places in the Middle East, Eid al-Fitr is a seemingly important celebration, it is a holiday that encourages unity. In 2016, the festival was scheduled from July 6 to July 8.
By Bianca-Ramona Dumitru
Edited by Cathy Milne
AlJazeera: Muslims around the world celebrate Eid al-Fitr 2016
Reuters: Syrian army, rebels agree to 72-hour Eid truce, but fighting continues
The Christian Science Monitor: Eid marks start of 3-day Syrian truce, first for entire country
The Hindu: The message of Eid al-Fitr
Image Courtesy of Chaoyue 超越 PAN 潘’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License