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Feature: Eid al-Fitr sparks revival of hope for war-ravaged Iraq

(Xinhua)

10:14, August 31, 2011

BAGHDAD, Aug. 30 (Xinhua) -- Eid al-Fitr came in war-battered Iraq on Tuesday, bringing revived hope for the people, who have been seeing violence almost on daily basis since 2003.

The traditions of Ramadan are meant to unite families and neighborhoods in a spirit of charity, peace and hospitality. And Eid al-Fitr, which marks the ending of the holy month of fasting, was featured with feast and party in the capital city of Baghdad this year.

After a whole month of daily fasting, families were seen on Tuesday flock into markets to buy food, drinks and other stuff for enjoyment.

Hareth Nather, a 28-year-old shop owner in Baghdad's western neighborhood of al-Jamia, told Xinhua that he was going to open the business till midnight.

"There is no comparison between the current security situation and that for past a few years. You would see customers roam on street after midnight," Nather said.

It is widely agreed that the danger is much less in Iraq, compared with the terror peak years of 2006 and 2007.

People in Iraq will hardly forget Samarra district of the Salah ad Din province.

During Ramadan in 2006, a bombing rocked a shi'ite shrine in Samarra, resulting in sectarian conflicts and a curfew in town, which kept people from feast and gathering when the Eid al-Fitr came.

Couple of days ago in Baghdad, a suicide bombing took place at a mosque, leaving 28 people dead, but people seem to ignore that.

"For Iraqi people, if bombing, which kills more than 10, happens only once in a month, it could be seen as a peaceful month, " a passer-by, insisting on anonymity, told Xinhua reporters.

It could hardly be seen as a joke.

Back to Nather's shop. "Soft drink, yogurt, milk and dates are increasingly demanded by customers for Eid," the owner said jubilantly. However, power shortage sheds shadow on his happiness.

"A big sum of my profit was spent to provide the shop with electricity, which is paid either to public generator, or for fuel for my private one," he said.

Baghdad and other Iraqi provinces have witnessed fuel and electricity shortages during the Ramadan, with temperature hovering around 50 Celsius degrees.

Price hike is another concern.

Um Ali, a 38-year-old housewife, complained that the price of some food items were doubled during Ramadan.

"We have to be used to higher prices during the fasting month of Ramadan," she said.

Traffic was heavy and youth hung around in alleyways, playing the traditional games like mahaibis, in which one person on a team conceals a ring in his hand and the other team must guess who has it.

"One day, there will be no bloody explosion and killing. I'm optimistic that Ramadan will one day be full of prosperity and peace for all," 19-year-old Omer Mohammed told Xinhua reporters.

Despite improvements in security, violent attacks continue and will continue to be a danger in Iraq. The al-Qaida has claimed to launch 100 attacks in Iraq during the Ramadan to revenge on Osama bin-Laden's killing.

But despite the challenges that Iraq still faces, at the end of this holy month, citizens can celebrate not only the Islamic traditions that unify them as Muslims, but also the success that unite them as Iraqis.

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