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Egyptians Observe Ramadan with Prayer, Politics

  • Elizabeth Arrott

One year after the ouster of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, Egyptians are celebrating a much calmer Ramadan.  But politics, both local and regional, still weigh heavy on many people's minds.

In Cairo’s Sayyida Zaynab district, Ramadan has taken hold. Whether buying festive lamps ... or dried fruits for Iftar to break the daily fast, people happily mix the festive with the holy.

It represents to us all that is good, prayers and fasting and of course getting closer to God, everything good, said Fatima, a resident in the region.

Yet even as people go about their preparations for the nightly feasts, the suffering of fellow Muslims is never far from some minds. The rise of Sunni militants in Iraq and Syria and the intervention of foreigners leave this shopkeeper unnerved.

“May God rescue Iraq from Americans and Da’ash [ISIL] and such problems. May God rescue them. Frankly we are in great pain for our brothers in Iraq and our brothers in Syria," said merchant Mohamed Marwan.

Ramadan prayers also go to fellow Egyptians, who just a year ago saw a president overthrown and a crackdown on dissent begin. Some are grateful for this year’s relative calm.

“There’s a great difference. At least this year we are somehow optimistic. Last year, we were in a state of destruction. We could not really feel the taste of what we eat at Iftar, truly,” Om Walid noted.

As night falls, some cares fall away.

There is, at least on some streets, joy.

Family members use whatever they can to brighten their homes for nightly gatherings, living in hope that the turmoil of the past few years will bring a better life.

“In fact, it is much better than the last three or four years, and may God make it a year of blessing on the Arab and Islamic world. Like those days we were in Tahrir [Square] for the sake of the homeland and its safety. But this year, thanks be to God, we are optimistic,” Saleh Hamed said.

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