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Millions of Muslims around the world mark Eid al-Adha despite high prices

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(Last Updated On: July 9, 2022)

Millions of Muslims across the globe celebrated the first day of Eid al-Adha on Saturday, one of the biggest holidays of the Islamic calendar.

Known as the “Feast of Sacrifice,” the revered observance coincides with the final rites of the annual hajj in Saudi Arabia. It’s a joyous occasion, for which food is a hallmark. Much of Asia, including Indonesia, India and Pakistan, will observe the holiday on Sunday, AP reported.

But as Russia’s war in Ukraine sends food prices soaring and causes widespread hardship across the Middle East, many say they can’t afford the livestock for the ritual sacrifice.

Desperation over the cost of living has undercut the typically booming holiday trade in goats, cows and sheep.

“Everyone wants to sacrifice an animal in the name of Allah, but they are not able to do so because they’re poor,” said Mohammad Nadir from a cattle market in Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan.

Many Muslims celebrate the four-day feast by ritually slaughtering livestock and distributing the meat among family, friends and the poor.

AP reported that at al-Shati refugee camp in west Gaza City on Saturday, excited children lined up for the innards and trotters — a cherished offering for those otherwise unable to afford meat.

In cash-strapped Afghanistan, there is usually a shopping rush for prime animals ahead of the holiday. But this year, galloping global inflation and economic devastation have put a purchase of great religious importance beyond the reach of many.

“Last year on this day I sold 40 to 50 cattle,” said Mohammad Qassim, an Afghan cattle vendor. “This year, I have only managed to sell two.”

Wheat and meat prices have multiplied and hunger has spread as Russia’s war on Ukraine disrupts agriculture and constrains energy supply. The sky-high costs of animal feed and fertilizer have forced livestock salesmen to hike prices, AP reported.

From Tripoli in war-torn Libya, families are looking forward to the holiday after the past two years of the pandemic and more than a decade of violent chaos.

But the price tags — up to $2,100 per sheep — had buyers pacing around the dusty market near the palm-studded highway, apprehensive about the major purchase.

“Honestly, the prices are crazy,” said Sabri al-Hadi.

At a livestock market in the blockaded Gaza Strip, there were hardly any buyers. Vendors said the price of sheep feed has jumped four fold in recent weeks.

“Our life is full of loss,” lamented Abu Mustafa, a sheep salesman in Deir al-Balah in central Gaza, which long has suffered from widespread joblessness and poverty.

On the streets of Ramallah, in the West Bank, Palestinian families were cutting back on other components of the feast — typically a bounty of dishes, from offal to kaak and maamoul holiday cookies, AP reported.

“On days like these, there was demand for fruits, sweets and for nuts as well, but as you can see … no one is standing to buy now,” complained fruit vendor Baligh Hamdi.

But lavish feast or no, there were community prayers — a welcome sight in much of the world after years of coronavirus-related restrictions. The faithful crowded into mosques across the Middle East and North Africa on Saturday.

From Kenya to Russia to Egypt, throngs of worshippers prayed shoulder to shoulder, feet to feet, AP reported.

“I feel very happy that all these people came to pray,” said Sahar Mohamed in Cairo, smiling widely. “There is love and acceptance between people.”

In Saudi Arabia, hundreds of thousands of pilgrims rose at dawn to trek to Mina. One million Muslims from around the world flocked this week to the holy city of Mecca, the largest pilgrimage since the pandemic upended the event.

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Voters in many countries sceptical of democracy, poll shows

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(Last Updated On: April 12, 2024)

Voters in many countries are suffering a crisis of faith in their democracies and institutions, a survey by a governance watchdog showed, painting a bleak picture in a year in which more than half of the world’s population holds elections.

With the United States, India, Britain and the European Union going to the polls in 2024, the report published on Thursday by the International Institute of Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) offers a sombre snapshot of the perceived health of many democracies.

The results show that voters in 11 of the 19 countries surveyed, which included the U.S. and India, fewer than half of the people believed the most recent election was free and fair.

Only voters in Denmark believed courts ‘always’ or ‘often’ provide access to justice, while in 8 of 19 countries, more people had favourable views of “a strong leader who doesn’t have to bother with parliament or elections” than had unfavourable views.”Democracies must respond to the scepticism of their public, both by improving governance and by combating the growing culture of disinformation that has fostered false accusations against credible elections,” International IDEA Secretary-General Kevin Casas-Zamora said in a statement.

This year’s presidential election in the United States is likely to see incumbent Democrat Joe Biden face off again against ex-president Donald Trump, who falsely claimed widespread voter fraud when he lost the presidency in 2020.

The survey showed that only 47 per cent of respondents in the United States expressed faith that the country had credible electoral processes.

Elections for Europe’s parliament which take place in June could see big gains for the far-right and impact policy from support for Ukraine in its war against Russia’s full-scale invasion to measures to address climate change.

In February, the parliament condemned what it called Russian attempts to undermine European democracy.

The survey, conducted between July 2023 and January 2024, polled about 1,500 people in each of 19 countries including Brazil, Chile, Colombia, The Gambia, Iraq, Italy, Lebanon, Lithuania, Pakistan, Romania, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Korea and Tanzania.

 

(Reuters)

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One dead, five wounded in Washington shooting

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(Last Updated On: April 11, 2024)

A man has been killed and five others, including two children, injured after a shooting in Washington.

The shooting happened in the Carver Langston neighborhood on Wednesday night, Metropolitan Police Department Chief Pamela Smith said.

Investigators believe the suspects got out of a vehicle and began shooting into a crowd of people on the street.

One man was killed while two men, a woman and a nine-year-old were taken by ambulance to local hospitals.

A 12-year-old later arrived at a hospital with a gunshot wound and is also believed to be a victim in the shooting, Smith said.

The District of Columbia is struggling with a sharp increase in violent crime, which went up 39 percent in 2023.

The increase was largely fuelled by a 35 percent rise in homicides and growth in carjackings, which nearly doubled.

Smith has pushed US politicians to pass legislation that would strengthen penalties for gun offenses in Washington.

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Three sons of Hamas leader Haniyeh killed in Israeli airstrike

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(Last Updated On: April 11, 2024)

Three sons of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh were killed in an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, the Palestinian Islamist group and Haniyeh’s family said.

The Israeli military confirmed carrying out the attack, describing the three sons as operatives in the Hamas armed wing, Reuters reported.

The three sons – Hazem, Amir and Mohammad – were killed when the car they were driving in was bombed in Gaza’s Al-Shati camp, Hamas said. Four of Haniyeh’s grandchildren, three girls and a boy, were also killed in the attack, Hamas said.

Asked about the four grandchildren killed in the airstrike, the Israeli military said there was “no information on that right now.”

Haniyeh, based abroad in Qatar, has been the tough-talking face of Hamas’ international diplomacy as war with Israel has raged on in Gaza, where his family home was destroyed in an Israeli airstrike back in November.

“The blood of my sons is not dearer than the blood of our people,” Haniyeh, 61, who has 13 sons and daughters according to Hamas sources, told pan-Arab Al Jazeera TV.

The three sons and four grandchildren were making family visits during the first day of Eid al-Fitr in Shati, their home refugee camp in Gaza City, according to relatives.

Hamas said on Tuesday it was studying an Israeli ceasefire proposal in the more than six-month-old Gaza war but that it was “intransigent” and met none of the Palestinian demands.

“Our demands are clear and specific and we will not make concessions on them. The enemy will be delusional if it thinks that targeting my sons, at the climax of the negotiations and before the movement sends its response, will push Hamas to change its position,” Haniyeh said.

In the seventh month of a war in which Israel’s air and ground offensive has devastated Gaza, Hamas wants an end to Israeli military operations and a withdrawal from the enclave, and permission for displaced Palestinians to return home, Reuters reported.

Haniyeh’s eldest son confirmed in a Facebook post that his three brothers were killed. “Thanks to God who honoured us by the martyrdom of my brothers, Hazem, Amir and Mohammad and their children,” wrote Abdel-Salam Haniyeh.

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