07/30/2011, 00.00
MIDDLE EAST - ISLAM
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Ramadan begins, the first of the Arab Spring

The month of fasting from food and water from sunrise to sunset, could result in a decline in political and social tensions in countries where the fight against regimes is still alive. The new television series, very popular during Ramadan, will talk of revolt.
Riyadh (AsiaNews / Agencies) - At some point in the evening of Sunday, July 31, at a different time depending on the part of the world, the month of Ramadan begins, which, with its fasting, is one of the five pillars of Islam. It will be an especially hard month this year, because the period falls in August, when the heat renders abstinence from drinking throughout the day real torture. Tradition has it that the daily fast begins when you are able to distinguish a white thread from a black thread.

The beginning of the period is fixed according to the lunar phases, and as such may vary from area to area. The appearance of the first star each night, ends the fasting, and marks the beginning of the '"iftar" dinner, which turns the Arab towns in a coral banquet. This year, Ramadan falls at a time when the Arab and Islamic world is still rocked by waves of the Arab Spring. Egypt, Yemen, Syria, Bahrain, to mention some countries experiencing times of great hardship and social unrest. It is possible that political tension will slow down because of the difficulty of continuing to fight and protest with 40 degrees in the shade and without food or water.

In Egypt and Tunisia, the Islamic militant formations such as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, "al-Nahda" in Tunisia will be able to perform the rites of Ramadan with a freedom never known, since their parties have been recognized and may meet in public for holy month celebrations. There ahs been a strong change even in the media world. In some countries, like Egypt, the TV free of censorship can accommodate the many Islamist televangelists outlawed by past regimes, and state broadcasters will be able to give more space to the broadcasts of a religious nature. Even the highly popular television series, widely watched during Ramadan, will change. According to the Saudi newspaper 'Al-Watan', most of the Arab soap operas filmed in recent months will deal with the Arab revolutions or events that relate to the previous regimes. In particular, plans for new serials on corruption experienced by citizens under the Egyptian regime of Hosni Mubarak.

For Muslims, it will be particularly hard to go without food and water in hot and long days of August. In years like this, where fasting occurs in summer, the doctors of law and the governments decide not to impose daylight saving, so it is less nerve-racking waiting for the first star that marks the end of repentance and the beginning of 'iftar: dinner every night turns large Arab cities into a bright banquet.

Ramadan this year will also be the first of the new Arab political new season. In many countries people will not drink and not eat, trying to continue to take to the streets and fight for change. Forty degrees in fasting from dawn to dusk will in all likelihood reduce political confrontation to the minimum. It will weaken the protest give regimes a month’s breathing space. This is what the Syrian regime hopes for: Ramadan as a last resort.
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