News / Middle East

    In Egypt, Eid Is Bittersweet

    After the biscuits cool, women fill boxes which they distribute among protesters and neighbors that support their cause.  (H. Elrasam/VOA)
    After the biscuits cool, women fill boxes which they distribute among protesters and neighbors that support their cause. (H. Elrasam/VOA)
    Heather Murdock
    Protesters in Cairo's sit-in camps are celebrating Eid al-Fitr, the holiday that marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Living in tents, however, makes some traditions hard to observe. To solve one holiday dilemma, protesters have set up stoves outside their camp to ensure no demonstrator will be without cookies this holiday season.
     
    At protests, regardless of the political leaning of the demonstrators, small actions - like cooking or cutting hair - can become acts of defiance.
     
    Inside a tent just outside of the Rabaa protest camp, three stoves have been operating around the clock for three days. About a dozen women and children fill boxes with two kinds of cookies: one they call “biscuits” and another called “kak.”
     
    As they empty trays into cardboard boxes, some of the ladies sing “Hey, cookies! Morsi is coming after Eid.” At rallies, protest organizers from the Muslim Brotherhood have told crowds that by the end of the holiday, ousted President Mohamed Morsi will be released from detention and with them in Rabaa to lead the prayers.
     
    The next Egyptian leader who will be thrown out of office by public protest, they add, is Army Chief Abdel Fatah el-Sissi, the man who orchestrated Morsi's ouster on July 3. The Egyptian public is now profoundly divided between those who support Morsi, and those who support Sissi.

    Protesters say they are making these Ramadan sweets in honor of ousted President Mohamed Morsi. (Heather Murdock for VOA)Protesters say they are making these Ramadan sweets in honor of ousted President Mohamed Morsi. (Heather Murdock for VOA)
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    Protesters say they are making these Ramadan sweets in honor of ousted President Mohamed Morsi. (Heather Murdock for VOA)
    Protesters say they are making these Ramadan sweets in honor of ousted President Mohamed Morsi. (Heather Murdock for VOA)
    After she finished singing, Hoda Mohammad Ali said cookies had been distributed to every tent in Rabaa, where thousands of people have been demonstrating for months in favor of Morsi.  
     
    The military led-interim government repeatedly has ordered protesters to go home or face arrests, but the demonstrators have not budged.

    If authorities decide to dismantle this camp and another across town, diplomats and rights organizations say there will be violence.
     
    Ali said because of the threat of violence, the stoves are set up outside the camp. If someone shoots one of the gas cylinders that power the stoves it would cause an explosion. Not far from where the stoves are now, scores of people were killed two weeks ago in clashes between the police and protesters. Since then, barricades made of sidewalk bricks and sandbags have increased in size and number every day.
     
    Inside the tent, cookie-makers say they are not bothered by their proximity to the front line, and it is clear that the culture of martyrdom is as powerful among the women and children in Rabaa as it is among the dozens of men guarding the entrance to the camp with sticks and hardhats.
     
    Warda Abdulrahman is the mother of four. Like many of the women and children, she said she would be proud to die for what she feels is not only a fight for democracy, but a fight for Islam itself. Democracy, she added, cannot be secular.
     
    Iman, 14, said she is staying at the protest with her parents and her brother and sister. They came to share the happiness of the holiday and support Morsi. When asked if she feared that the camp could turn dangerous she said, “I will donate my blood for my country. I came here to be a martyr. That's all.”
     
    She and some other children put sprinkles on cookie dough on a tray shaped to read, “Get out Sissi! Morsi is my President,” which rhymes in Arabic.
     
    As we leave the tent, the ladies also point to a box of broken and burned cookies on the ground and ask us to send them to U.S. President Barack Obama to protest what they see as the United States' failure to call Morsi’s removal a “military coup.”
     
    American foreign policy towards Egypt has drawn criticism from all sides here in Cairo. U.S. intentions remain unclear, with State Department officials saying, “We have determined that we don’t need to make a determination."

    • A boy stands as the faithful attend prayers for the Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday, which marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, in Palermo, Italy, August 8, 2013. 
    • Thousands of believers take part in morning prayers to celebrate the first day of Eid-al-Fitr in Moscow, Russia, August 8, 2013. 
    • People attend Eid al-Fitr prayers at Parang Kusumo beach, Indonesia, near the ancient city of Yogyakarta, August 8, 2013. 
    • Children ride swings during Eid al-Fitr in the port city of Sidon, southern Lebanon, August 8, 2013.
    • Somali residents dance to traditional songs while celebrating the Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday, which marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, north of the capital, Mogadishu, August 8, 2013. 
    • Supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohamed Morsi hold balloons and national flags as they celebrate the first day of the Eid al-Fitr feast, Cairo, August 8, 2013.
    • Syrian disabled refugees pray during the Eid al-Fitr holiday at Zaatari Syrian refugee camp in Mafraq, Jordan, August 8, 2013.
    • Iraqi Muslims exchange greetings after the Eid dawn prayers outside the Abu Hanifa mosque in the Azamiyah area of north Baghdad, August 8, 2013.
    • Syrian President Bashar Assad prays at the start of Eid al-Fitr at the Anas bin Malik Mosque, Damascus, August 8, 2013.
    • Muslim worshippers offer the Eid al-Fitr dawn prayer at Lisbon's Martim Moniz square, August 8, 2013.
    • Muslims travel on the roof of a train to head home ahead of Eid al-Fitr as others wait at a railway station in Dhaka, August 8, 2013.
    • Muslims burn incense after attending an Eid al-Fitr morning prayer session at the Niujie Mosque in Beijing, August 8, 2013.
    • Muslim youths are seen through the windows of a mosque as they perform Eid al-Fitr morning prayers, Porong, East Java, Indonesia, August 8, 2013.
    • Indonesian Muslim women walk before the Eid al-Fitr prayer that marks the end of Ramadan, Jakarta, August 8, 2013.
    • A beautician paints henna on the foot of a woman ahead of the Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday, at a stall in a market in Karachi, Pakistan, August 8, 2013.
    • A woman looks at traditional dresses at a shop during Eid al-Fitr in Colombo, Sri Lanka, August 8, 2013. 
    • Children buy candies as they celebrate Eid al-Fitr in the Duma neighborhood of Damascus, Syria, August 8, 2013. 
    • A youth rides a rented horse as he celebrates Eid al-Fitr in the port city of Sidon, southern Lebanon, August 8, 2013. 
    • Somali boys play football in Lido beach while celebrating the Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday, in the capital, Mogadishu, August 8, 2013. 
    • Men pray outside the Grand Mosque during Eid al-Fitr celebrations in Bamako, Mali, August 8, 2013. 
    • A Malian national guardsman (L) takes up a post along a street outside the Grand Mosque before Eid al-Fitr prayers in Bamako, Mali, August 8, 2013. 
    • A Palestinian girl prays next to a grave at a cemetery in the West Bank city of Ramallah on the first day of Eid al-Fitr, August 8, 2013.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: John Smith from: DC
    August 09, 2013 2:38 AM
    "We have determined that we dont need to make a determination" is a really stupid determination. Follow the letter and spirit of the law. You can't pick and choose which laws you will follow and which ones you won't

    by: William Norman
    August 09, 2013 12:21 AM
    President Barack Obama used a press statement Wednesday night to signal his growing support for Islamist political priorities in Turkey, Syria and Egypt.
    “They are cooperating to push Egypt, to force them, to threaten their aid, to get Muslim Brotherhood people back into the government,” said Barry Rubin, director of the Global Research in International Affairs Center.The joint statement also suggested that Obama shares Erdogan’s goal of gradually reversing the Egyptian army’s recent removal of the elected Muslim Brotherhood government, led by Mohammed Morsi.

    In Response

    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    August 09, 2013 1:23 PM
    Hi, William Norman, are you by this suggesting that the USA is by chance having a muslim brotherhood supporter? Are are you in some way suggesting that Mr. Obama has islamic leaning, thus why he has so much sympathy for islamic issues not only in Egypt but in Syria, Turkey and elsewhere? Please make this issue clearer for our understanding.

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