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Iraqis Adapt Their Ramadan Routines to Fit Curfew

Iraqis Adapt Their Ramadan Routines to Fit Curfew

Thursday, 21 May, 2020 - 05:45
Iraqi civil defense workers disinfect a market in Baghdad. AFP
Asharq Al-Awsat

Baghdad, a city of nearly ten million residents, is running on an unusual rhythm this Ramadan since Iraq imposed an overnight curfew to curb the spreading coronavirus.


A few hours before dawn, the wailing voice of Sayyed Mozahem rings out across a small neighborhood in old Baghdad, amplified by his portable microphone.


Mozahem is the neighborhood "musaharati", responsible during Ramadan for reminding Muslims to have their final meal before a new day of fasting begins with the sunrise.


"Fasters, wake up," he chants, marching through the streets to the beat of his traditional drum as his older brother and father did before him.


But his refrains have a special twist: "May Ramadan keep the coronavirus away," and "God, spare Iraq from COVID-19," AFP reported.


Today, people in Iraq are adapting their Ramadan routines to fit a curfew from 5 pm until 5 am -- the hours Baghdad usually comes alive with huge fast-breaking feasts, late-night runs for sweets and midnight mosque visits. Iraqis are now rushing through checkpoints before the lockdown starts, praying alone at home and baking traditional sweets usually bought in stores.


A sombre and isolating mood has settled over the capital, where the response to the novel coronavirus has left its mark from dawn until dusk.


As dusk settles, the dainty garlands decorating the mosque light up and the sunset prayer -- calling on Muslims to break their fast at home -- echoes across the city.


Iraqis bite in to modest dinners at home with family, reminiscing about past elaborate meals where dozens of relatives, neighbours and friends were invited.


Instead of strolls through halogen-lit streets to pick up sweets or toys, they wile away the nighttime hours with card games or television.


Accoridng to AFP, on the nightly news broadcast, Iraqi channels announce the new coronavirus numbers: more than 3,600 cases across the country and over 130 deaths.


The numbers are rising faster now, a grim lead-up to the Eid al-Fitr holiday -- usually a joyful occasion for extended family gatherings.


As twilight approaches, a drum echoes through the darkened streets and the musaharati begins calling Muslims to their final pre-fast meal.


Baghdad's new routine begins all over again.


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