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How Muslims are celebrating Eid al-Adha amid coronavirus | Coronavirus pandemic News



Muslims worldwide will celebrate Eid al-Adha, also known as the Festival of Sacrifice, amid a coronavirus pandemic that has so far infected more than 16 million people worldwide.

Like the Islamic holiday Eid al-Fitr in May that followed the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims are being encouraged to take precautions and alter the way they observe as a result of COVID-19 between July 30 and August 4.

In normal circumstances, Eid day starts by gathering at a mosque in the morning to take part in prayers.

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has published recommendations on its website promoting outdoor prayers and if not, for multiple staggered prayer times indoors.

Enough time should be arranged between congregations and khutbahs, or sermons, and they should be kept short, the MCB advised. It added Eid greetings should be given without hugging or shaking hands.

Much of Eid observances consist of getting together with family and friends and sharing meals, but the MCB advised it is best to keep numbers to a minimum and to meet outdoors.

Some mosques in Canada are following similar guidelines, with Toronto’s Jame Masjid encouraging Muslims to reserve a spot for prayer ahead of time on one of the eight different time slots on its SMART Jamaat app.

Crimean Tatar Muslims pray in the Great Khan Mosque on the first day of the Eid al-Adha (Kurban Bayram) in the city of Bakhchisaray in this file photo from 2014 [Max Vetrov/AFP]

For those who are unable to reserve a time, the Bosnian Islamic Association (BIA) in Toronto said Muslims can still perform Eid prayers at home instead.

BIA advised Muslims to continue following the sunnah (practices of the Prophet Muhammad) by dressing in one’s best clothes and reciting takbirs (Islamic phrases in Arabic exalting God) as much as one can from Fajr (early morning prayer before sunrise) until the Eid prayer.

After having mosques closed for more than two months, including during Eid al-Fitr in May, Saudi Arabia announced that Eid prayers will take place inside mosques and not outside.

Its Ministry of Islamic Affairs recommended adhering to the usual precautionary measures such as keeping two metres (six feet) of social distancing and bringing one’s own prayer rug.

Much of the world has implemented social distancing as a basic measure, but in the besieged Gaza Strip, Palestinians say they will be gathering with family and celebrating Eid as usual as there have been few cases.

According to Gaza’s health ministry, as of Monday there were only five people infected with the coronavirus who were all in quarantine at the hospital. Seventy people have so far recovered from coronavirus since the outbreak.

“So far we have zero cases of coronavirus in Gaza [outside of the hospital]. That’s why this won’t affect how we celebrate; it will be the same,” Karama Fadel, 31, an Arabic-language teacher from Gaza City, told Al Jazeera.

She added her siblings living in Turkey, Belgium and Morocco will not be able to celebrate as usual under coronavirus measures.

“Here in Gaza we can celebrate, but unfortunately our families outside of Gaza cannot celebrate like us and can’t be with us,” Fadel said.

A Palestinian boy carries a goat in a farm where livestock are sold for the upcoming Eid Al Adha sacrifice, in the northern Gaza Strip

A Palestinian boy carries a goat in a farm where livestock is sold for the upcoming Eid al-Adha sacrifice in the northern Gaza Strip [Mohammed Salem/Reuters]

Distributing meat to the poor

A major part of Eid al-Adha is the Qurbani (or Udhiya), which means sacrifice. Livestock – goats, sheep, cows or camels – are sacrificed reflecting on Prophet Ibrahim’s (Abraham for Christians and Jews) willingness to sacrifice his son Ismail (Ishmael) for the sake of God.

The meat is then donated to the poor as well as neighbours and family. Every Muslim who has the financial means should give his share to the poor.

Many donate money to their local mosque or organisation, who in turn buy the livestock and distribute the meat to millions of people in need worldwide. All livestock must be hygienically and ethically treated.

The MCB advises that if sharing Udhiya locally, to make contactless drop-offs.

Indonesia, which has the highest rate of coronavirus cases in Southeast Asia, issued a notice last month that prayers in congregation and the slaughter of sacrifical animals are allowed in areas at low risk of coronavirus transmission.

Worker feeds animals with dry grass at a cattle shop, in Depok

A worker feeds animals with hay at a cattle yard as the coronavirus pandemic continues in Depok, on the outskirts of Jakarta, Indonesia [Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana/Reuters]

Other countries are also taking special precautions. In Hyderabad, India, a mufti issued a fatwa (legal opinion given by a qualified religious scholar) that Muslims can donate an equal amount of money to the poor instead of sacrificing an animal if they are unable to do so because of the pandemic.

The fatwa comes as some fear coronavirus may spread if people visit markets to buy livestock or if people visit others when distributing the meat.

Pakistani authorities have banned setting up small makeshift meat markets within cities and have prohibited the slaughter of animals in open spaces.

“I appeal to the citizens to avoid visiting cattle markets, and opt for online booking of sacrificial animals this year,” Zafar Mirza, Pakistan’s top health official, said on Sunday.

Asad Umar, Pakistan’s planning minister and head of a coronavirus task force, said in a tweet over the past few days “more than 500 illegal cattle markets had been shut” across Pakistan.

The World Health Organization published a list of guidelines this week including nominating one household in an area to perform the sacrifice, whose members adhere to physical distancing throughout the process.

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Minister Rukutana charged with attempted murder, remanded




The state minister for Labour, Gender and Economic Development Mwesigwa Rukutana has been remanded to Kyamugorani prison in Mbarara district.

Rukutana appeared before Ntungamo Grade One magistrate Nazifah Namayanja this afternoon from where he was charged with seven offences related to attempted murder, assault, malicious damage, and threatening violence.

Rukutana was captured in a video that went viral on social media showing him grabbing a gun from one of his bodyguards and started shooting at a vehicle belonging to supporters of his political rival Naome Kabasharira. At the time of the incident, Rukutana had just lost the Rushenyi country NRM flag to Kabasharira.

The prosecution alleges that on September 5, 2020, at Kagugu village in Ntungamo district, Rukutana and others still at large assaulted Julius Niwamanya and threatened to kill or injure him together with three others. The others are Stuart Kamukama, Dan Rwibirungi, and Moses Kamukama. 

It is also alleged that Rukutana also willfully and unlawfully damaged a motor vehicle registration number UAR 840X Toyota Rav 4 type which belongs to Moses Muhumuza.

According to the Judiciary public relations officer, Jameson Karemani, Rukutana has not taken a plea of these charges against him since they can only be tried by the chief magistrate who was not in court today.

As a result, the magistrate decided to send him to Kyamugorani, awaiting his return to court on Tuesday.      

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Lira district headquarters closed over COVID-19




Lira district headquarters have been closed after one staff tested positive for COVID-19 last week. 

On Monday morning, district staff were blocked at the gate with only the deputy chief administrative officer, his secretary and the receptionist allowed access to their offices. 

Paul Samuel Mbiiwa, the deputy chief administrative officer says that only heads of department will be allowed at the headquarters while the rest will work from home. He adds that the restriction will help to curb the spread of the virus.

“You see corona is not a joke. We have taken a step at fighting it and that is why you are seeing the staff outside. Even in my office here I do not want people to come if there is anything we can discuss on the phone.”

Francis Okello Olwa, a senior community development officer who doubles as the district spokesperson says that the entire district offices will be fumigated and closed for two days.

Health authorities in the district are planning to take samples from all the staff because they could have interacted with the one who tested positive. Currently, there are 19 COVID-19 patients under treatment at Lira regional referral hospital.     

On Sunday four health workers at the hospital tested positive for COVID-19. Dr Patrick Odongo, a senior medical officer at the hospital also succumbed to the virus.  

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Museveni issues ultimatum to police boss




Museveni flagged off distribution of motorcycles for NRM chairpersons

President Yoweri Museveni has given Inspector General of Police (IGP) Martins Okoth Ochola a chilling ultimatum: You either do your work or I will do it myself!

Museveni disclosed the ultimatum he gave to the IGP today Monday at the NRM secretariat at Plot 10 Kyadondo Road in Kampala where he was flagging off the distribution of motorcycles to parish chairpersons of the ruling National Resistance Movement party across the country. 

“I told the IGP that if the police doesn’t do their work, I will do it myself by arresting the police officers themselves,” Museveni stunned his audience as he commented on the electoral violence that marred the NRM primaries held on Friday last week. At least 4 people were killed across the country during the primaries. 

“There was violence in Bukono county [Namutumba district] where people were beaten. I got information that police has not done much work. Some (policemen) have been arrested and given police bond; there is no police bond for somebody who has attacked Ugandans!,” Museveni added. 

Museveni vowed to deal with all persons who messed up the party primaries.  In some parts of the country, there were massive regularities where candidates who had been defeated ended up being announced winners. In some places like Namutumba, Isingiro, Ntungamo, Jinja, Katakwi, among others, there was violence that led to the killing and wounding of civilians. Museveni said that they are going to make sure that all those who participated in these irregularities and violence are held to account. 

Museveni said although the violence was orchestrated by the politicians, the police personnel are to be held accountable for failing to contain it.

Last week, police spokesman Fred Enanga warned police personnel especially those guarding VIPs against being drawn into the politicians’ political wrangles, reminding them that they would face the music if they did. With the president now threatening to go and conduct the arrests of errant policemen himself, IGP Ochola is likely to move fast to avert the spectacle. 

Museveni wondered why police would shoot at unarmed people who were fighting amongst themselves: “That policeman must be arrested; even the ones who are threatening people you will go to jail for that if we get evidence,” a seemingly incensed Museveni said.

He also said that the state minister of Labour, Gender and Economic Development Mwesigwa Rukutana who was captured on camera attempting to shoot people over the weekend in Ntugamo after he lost the  Rushenyi primaries, will be charged with threatening violence and attempted murder. 

 “This game is finished,” Museveni said.

Rukatana has since been charged and remanded to Kyamugorani prison in Mbarara district in western Uganda. Museveni called upon all those dissatisfied with the election results to write petitions to the regional panels of elders which he said are going to be constituted to hear all election complaints.

“We are going to get three respected people who are not part of the struggles, then we shall go and audit village per village and we shall discover. If you have committed forgery, the registrar or the politician who ordered,  you all shall go to jail. The game is finished; the voting is by lining and if you miss-add, you are ‘miss-add’ yourself,” Museveni said.

Museveni’s speech came shortly before that of Justine Kasule Lumumba, the secretary general of the NRM who called upon the president to reign over some senior people who with impunity were freely changing the results of the elections.

“Some of our staff were lured into changing declaration forms on the way forgetting that people who had participated at the village don’t need to write; they registered the record in their faces…Some have done things with impunity… in Butemba county Kyakwanzi district, one of the candidates who got 3,000 votes brought in soldiers, cordoned off that place and was declared a winner and off they went away,” Lumumba said. 

The ball is now in Ochola’s court to get the police to execute their duties professionally and with impartiality. In March 2017, President Museveni warned Ochola’s predecessor Kale Kayihura to clean the police force of wrong elements. As months passed with no visible sign of police officers shaping up, Museveni resorted to other security agencies who started arresting rogue senior police officers and charging them in the military court for various crimes.

Kayihura was then removed from office, arrested and jointly charged with the errant officers in the army court. To avoid similar fate, Ochola is likely to use a firmer hand on the police officers so that by the time of the February 2021 elections, there is no laxity in the force’s execution of its mandate to maintain law and order.

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