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Ramadan on collision course with virus for Asia’s Muslims

first_img‘Trapped’ Some signs suggest the order may not be respected — authorities in the northern state of Perlis have said they will allow food traders to operate from home and on the roadside, potentially increasing the chance of crowds gathering.Hadi Azmi, a 31-year-old video editor, said he understood the need for restrictions but he also felt “trapped”.”I feel weird as the fasting month approaches because we have to remain indoors and we cannot meet our parents and siblings to break fast and pray together,” he told AFP.And in Indonesia, a possible explosion in coronavirus cases when millions travel to hometowns and ancestral villages after Ramadan has forced the country’s president to issue a ban on the annual exodus.Like Christmas or the Chinese Lunar New Year, the movement kicks off an extended holiday when many Indonesians celebrate Eid al-Fitr with their families to mark the end of Ramadan.The government has called on residents of major cities, including the capital Jakarta, to stay put, and on Tuesday President Joko Widodo said he would ban any mass migration.Researchers at the University of Indonesia have warned the travel rush could lead to one million infections in the densely populated Java island alone and an eye-watering 200,000 deaths.”If you care about your loved ones, stay where you are until all this ends,” Ridwan Kamil, governor of 50-million strong West Java province, said recently.Jakarta resident Romy Gustiansyah said he wouldn’t visit family on Sumatra island this year over coronavirus fears.”I’m sad that I won’t see my family for Eid, but I’m trying to stay optimistic,” Gustiansyah told AFP. “This is just a delay. That’s what I’m telling myself.” Across Asia, home to about half of the world’s Muslims, the coming Islamic holy month of Ramadan is on a collision course with the coronavirus pandemic as clerics call on the faithful to cram into mosques.Authorities have tried to limit the fallout during the sacred period of fasting, which starts Thursday, but in many cases religious leaders have brushed aside concerns about activities that could spread COVID-19.In Bangladesh, clerics lashed out at attempts to reduce the number of people going to mosques, and demanded the country’s secular government allow millions of Muslims to join daily and weekly prayers. In the run-up to Ramadan, mosques have been filling up across Pakistan with hundreds attending Friday prayers, sitting shoulder to shoulder and paying little heed to social distancing.”I will take all the preventive measures, washing my hands and using my mask but it doesn’t mean I will stop attending prayers, especially during Ramadan,” taxi driver Zubair Khan told AFP in the northwestern city of Peshawar.The virus threat at large religious congregations has been highlighted in recent weeks by three waves of infections in Asia, linked to separate, massive Islamic congregations in Malaysia, Pakistan and India. “The quota on the number of worshippers imposed by the government is not acceptable to us. Islam does not support imposition of any quota on worshippers,” said Mojibur Rahman Hamidi, a senior member of the hardline Hefazat-e-Islam group.Islamic leaders in Bangladesh, where tens of thousands of people defied a nationwide lockdown Saturday to attend the funeral of a top preacher, reminded people it is “mandatory” for a healthy Muslim to attend prayers in a mosque.In Pakistan, devotees said worship is more important than coronavirus concerns.Authorities have buckled under religious pressure, allowing daily prayers and evening congregations at mosques after clerics promised to instruct religious leaders to clean their facilities regularly.center_img Rising death tolls Asia is home to some of the world’s largest Muslim populations stretching from the Indonesian archipelago to the Hindu Kush mountains of Afghanistan, and close to a billion Muslims live in the region.Regional death tolls from COVID-19 have been much smaller compared with Europe and the United States but are rising steadily, sparking fears the virus may overwhelm often underfunded healthcare sectors.The coronavirus pandemic has triggered lockdowns throughout Asia, with schools shut and businesses closed, but mosques have largely stayed open.During Ramadan, mosques hold regular prayers and large “iftar” meals to break the fast at dusk, while families host feasts at home with relatives and friends in Southeast Asia, there has been fierce debate in food-mad Malaysia about whether to allow popular Ramadan bazaars, where Muslims buy local delicacies before breaking their fasts.Malaysia has imposed a nationwide coronavirus lockdown, and the government last week said that to ensure social distancing, they would only allow so-called “e-bazaars”, where people order goods online from local vendors which are then delivered to their homes. Topics :last_img read more

Local Men Share a Unique Bond Through World War II

first_imgAddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterShare to MoreAddThis “When you meet someone you never know how you’re connected to them,” Ken Gembel said.That’s true especially for some who live in Alpena, and in the state of Michigan, but for these two men you could say they are bothers. Although they share no related blood their fathers forever bonded them through World War II.“I started looking into the history of where his father was and where my father was at Omaha Beach on June, 6th 1944 and they were within 100 yards of each other. My dad was from Pennsylvania, and his dad was from Alpena and they are covering each other’s backs and they were brothers in arms serving our country,” Gembel explained.Their special bond all started when Gembel paid a visit to Jimmie Garant’s Party Store for his granddaughter’s fundraiser, ‘Coins for Cops.’ Gembel noticed a wall full of war history and learned that his father and Garant’s father shared identical uniform patches.“Every time he came in we had more stories and as the stories went we got closer, because our fathers were that close during the war,” Garant said.Learning their connection, Gembel reached out to the camp commanders office at Fort Riley, Kansas, the home of the First Infantry Division who were amazed by the story.The division decided to send Gembel a gift for his friend, which led to this Memorial Day special delivery of a U.S. flag, a certificate, and another flag that represents the First Infantry Division.“It was a great surprise and a great honor for my family and my dad and his family that served in WWII,” Garant said. It’s nice to see people out there community minded, and people minded to do something like this. It was very nice of him,” Garant added. So if you were wondering where Garant plans on placing his new certificate? “I’ll find a spot for it,” he finished.AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterShare to MoreAddThisContinue ReadingPrevious Thunder Bay Film Society Crowdsourcing Cover Art for 2018 Sunrise 45 Film FestivalNext Biggby Coffee Finds a New Homelast_img read more

Border collie named Verb wins Westminster agility contest

first_imgSo far, Border collies and Australian shepherds have won the annual contest since it began in 2014. Participants say the sport builds a special bond between dogs and owners.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next View comments Clippers rally from 28 down, beat Celtics Phivolcs: Slim probability of Taal Volcano caldera eruption Verb tore through an obstacle course, guided by handler Perry DeWitt of Wyncote, Pennsylvania.A dog called Plop got a special award for top mixed-breed. Plop is handled by Lisa Topol of New York City.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSGolden State Warriors sign Lee to multiyear contract, bring back ChrissSPORTSCoronation night?SPORTSThirdy Ravena gets‍‍‍ offers from Asia, Australian ball clubsThe 330 contestants were as small as a Chihuahua and as big as a 98-pound Bernese mountain dog.The dogs navigate jumps, ramps, tunnels and other objects on a route packed with tricky turns. In fight vs corruption, Duterte now points to Ayala, MVP companies as ‘big fish’ Nadine Lustre’s phone stolen in Brazil Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. LATEST STORIES Japeth Aguilar wins 1st PBA Finals MVP award for Ginebra Philippine Army to acquire MANPADS, self-propelled howitzers Tom Brady most dominant player in AFC championship history Will you be the first P16 Billion Powerball jackpot winner from the Philippines? Ginebra beats Meralco again to capture PBA Governors’ Cup title Border collie named Stella competes in the masters agility preliminary rounds during the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)NEW YORK — The Verb is: “win.”A border collie named Verb won the Westminster Kennel Club’s agility contest Saturday night.ADVERTISEMENT MOST READ Gretchen Barretto’s daughter Dominique graduates magna cum laude from California collegelast_img read more