No Dutch 'Ramadan Festival' this year

1st August 2011, Comments 0 comments

For the first time in six years, the beginning of the Muslim holy month of fasting is not being marked in the Netherlands by a Ramadan Festival.

The event was set up in response to the murder by an Islamic extremist of Dutch film director and author Theo van Gogh in 2004. The organisers of the festival said their aim was to counter stereotypes about Muslims and help combat fears among Dutch Muslims themselves. The organisers say the event has been suspended to allow for a period of reflection.

The Union of Moroccan Mosques this year wants to focus on the famine in the Horn of Africa. “If you can’t contribute money, please contribute with a prayer”, says the group’s president, Khalil Aitblal.

During the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims are not allowed to eat or drink from sunrise to sunset. Nor are they permitted to smoke, make love or curse.

According to official government figures, Muslims represent between five and six percent of the Dutch population, though not all of them are equally observant. The end of Ramadan, which this year lasts until 30 August, is marked by the three-day Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr.

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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