The holy month of Ramadan has begun for the majority of Muslims across the world.
As tradition dictates, all Muslims must refrain from drinking, eating, smoking and having sex during daylight hours. The fasting ends at dusk each day with the iftar feast. For many Muslims, this year’s Ramadan holiday has been affected by the economic downturn. One man in Gaza said: “Ramadan has begun with most Palestinians living in tragedy and disaster. Seventy percent have no work and so more than eighty percent live in poverty. And at the same time, raw materials are so expensive and difficult to get hold of.” Another worry in some countries is security. In Indonesia, where terrorists struck at the Ritz and Carlton hotels last month, police will monitor religious sermons to make sure radical clerics do not glorify acts of jihad. Ramadan usually sees tens of thousands of pilgrims travel to the holy Saudi cities of Mecca and Medina. But with concerns over a concentration of swine flu cases in Saudi Arabia, visitor numbers are expected to be down by up to 70 percent.