Muslims start fasting month amid Mideast turmoil
Cairo: More than a billion Muslims across the
world begin observing this week the holy month of Ramadan, a
time of fasting and prayer which this year coincides with
deadly turmoil in the Middle East.
Arab governments are bracing for increased tensions in
the region which has been rocked by unprecedented
pro-democracy uprisings that have brought down autocratic
regimes in Tunisia and Egypt.
In Syria, where a bloody crackdown on dissent nears its
fifth month, authorities fear that protesters will rally
against the regime when they emerge from mosques after nightly
Facebook group The Syrian Revolution 2011, a driving
force of the protest movement wrote: "The regime is afraid of
Ramadan and the taraweeh prayers," and has called for
"Syria is bleeding," a message said.
In Libya, rebel fighters locked for months in deadly
battles with strongman Moamer Kadhafi's regime, told AFP there
was no question of stopping what they see as their march on
"Yes, Ramadan is beginning but we will continue to
fight," said Colonel Juma Brahim, head of the rebel fighters'
operational command in the Nafusa region, from his command
post in Zintan.
"If it's war and we're tired, we'll eat. But if we remain
in a defensive position, we will fast. God is with us," said
Hatem al-Jadi, a 24-year-old fighter in the western desert
hamlet of Gualish, south of Tripoli.
But in Cairo, where massive streets protests overthrew
the 30-year rule of president Hosni Mubarak in February,
demonstrators camped out at the emblematic Tahrir Square
suspended their sit-in for Ramadan.
Mubarak is due to face trial on Wednesday along with his
two sons, a key business associate, his former interior
minister and six security officers on charges of murder and