Baghdad: Shi’ites and Sunnis in Iraq on Saturday started Ramadan at the same time for the first time since the fall of dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003.
As in most Arab countries, in particular Saudi Arabia, the Sunnis had announced that the fast would begin on Saturday.
Last evening, a source from the office of the Grand Ayatollah Ali Husseini al-Sistani, Iraq`s top Shi’ite cleric, announced that the month-long observance would also commence on Saturday for followers of the Shi’ite faith.
The Shi’ites had previously made a point of beginning Ramadan a day earlier or a day later than Sunnis since gaining power following the US-led invasion of Iraq six years ago, in the wake of 80 years of Sunni domination.
Conflict between the two Muslim communities after the overthrow of Saddam led to the deaths of thousands from both sides, with particularly high casualties in 2006 and 2007.