A soldier guards a closed mosque in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad A soldier guards a closed mosque in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad 

Ramadan begins amid coronavirus lockdown

The Muslim holy month of Ramadan gets underway, though holy sites across the Middle East are deserted due to Covid-19 social-distancing measures.

By Nathan Morley

For Muslims everywhere, long-standing traditions, such as gatherings with family and evening prayers, are being disrupted as people are forced to isolate.

The world’s 1.8 billion Muslims are adjusting to a month-long holy period of fasting and reflection, as mosques remain closed and feasts after dusk are held in private.

Modified lockdowns

Some countries have amended curfews to make it easier for people to shop for food.

Egypt's government is allowing more businesses to reopen, and supermarkets and businesses can stay open on weekends until sundown.

Algeria too is easing confinement directives and shortening curfews in some districts around Algiers.

In the Gaza Strip, all mosques will remain closed throughout the holy month.

In Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, all non-essential travel between provinces has been banned in order to contain the virus.

However, reports suggest that mosques in Pakistan have been full in the lead-up to Ramadan, despite calls for tighter restrictions.

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24 April 2020, 15:09