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French Ramadan – and controversy – ends

AFP

The French Muslim Council has decided to conclude Ramadan this Wednesday evening, putting an end to a controversy on the scheduling of the holy month in France.

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August 7th was officially the last day of fasting for French Muslims, the president of the French Muslim Council, Dr Dalil Boubakeur, announced at the Great Mosque of Paris Wednesday evening.

“After gathering information from Muslim countries close to France where the observation of a new moon crescent has confirmed astronomical data and discussing the matter, the members have decided that Eid al-Fitr 1434/H will take place on Thursday August 8th, 2013,” Dr Boubakeur wrote in a statement on the Paris Mosque website.

Millions of French Muslims will therefore come together to celebrate the major Eid festival, which follows immediately after Ramadan. Eid is marked by special prayers, festivities and visits to the homes of friends and relatives.

The decision is aimed at drawing a line under the dispute between those who chose to fix the dates of the lunar month of Ramadan based on astronomical calculations, and those who rely on a visual interpretation of the moon’s position in the sky. The moon is traditionally observed on one of the last nights of Ramadan, called “the night of doubt”.

The two groups were split over the date on which to begin Ramadan last month, with some French mosques asking Muslims to start fasting on July 9th and others on July 10th.

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