05/04/2022, 18.21
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Muslims celebrate the end of Ramadan in Colombo

by Melani Manel Perera

Despite the economic crisis, Muslims celebrated Eid al-Fitr with joy and renewed hope. Young people seek an end to sectarian divisions. In the meantime, protests against the high cost of living and calls for President Gotabaya Rajapaksa continue.

Colombo (AsiaNews) – Sri Lanka’s Muslims celebrated Eid al-Fitr with greater joy and freedom this year, this despite the country’s ongoing economic crisis.

Breaking the fast brought wonderful happiness “that not even we understand,” many said. “We had to celebrate Ramadan this year,” noted Shaikh Abdul Rahuman, head of the Negombo mosque, speaking to AsiaNews.

“Not only Muslims face severe economic mental stress, but we have not had the opportunity to experience freedom and joy like this year,” he explained.

For Sri Lankan Muslims, Eid al-Fitr is a bit like Christmas or Sinhala and Tamil New Year, which are important holidays in the country.

"We have often been discriminated against or accused of crimes, but nothing of the kind happened this year,” Shaikh Rahuman said.

However, people are still out in great numbers to protest against the high cost of living, calling on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to resign.

Perhaps the protests of the last few weeks are behind a new sense of unity among Sri Lankans.

"Everyone was able to come together without fear, as racial, religious or caste differences fade away," Shaikh Rahuman noted.

Young people have especially rejected ethnic and sectarian divisions and are calling for the removal from power of the Rajapaksa clan, unhappy with the new cabinet the president appointed recently.

Although it was a day of celebration, several young people from Kotikawatta and Wattala joined the protest at the Galle Face Green urban park in Colombo.

“Despite economic hardships, we Muslims were able to eat and drink freely,” a number of youths told AsiaNews. Some brought traditional food and sweets.

“I am very happy to have celebrated together with people shouting the same slogan 'Gota go home' like people do in Negombo," Shaikh Rahuman said.

“We owe a lot to the young people of this country and we, as adults, must be vigilant and safeguard opportunities for them.”

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