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RELIGION

Muslims prepare for Eid al-Fitr festival

AFP

The Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr that marks the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan will begin on Monday in many countries around the world, including Gulf states and France.

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The religious authorities in Saudi Arabia announced on Sunday they had received reports of sightings of the new moon, marking the end of Ramadan.

"Eid al-Fitr will therefore be celebrated from Monday," an official statement said.

Kuwait, Lebanon, Qatar, Syria, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen have all also said the festival will begin in their countries on Monday.

In France, which is home to the largest Muslim community in Europe, the official body representing Islam, too, decided to celebrate Eid on Monday. French Muslims had previously split on the date of Ramadan's start.

During Ramadan, observant Muslims do not drink, eat or have sexual relations between dawn and nightfall. In contrast, Eid is celebrated with family feasts.

Violence in several majority Muslim areas is overshadowing the festival this year, with the conflict between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza in many Muslims' prayers.

The Great Mosque of Paris issued a statement on Sunday "imploring Allah" to "ease the pain of all those faced with terrible ordeals, especially in Gaza".

In Nigeria, the authorities of the northern city of Kano have cancelled celebrations after two bomb attacks blamed on the Islamist group Boko Haram on Sunday.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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