8 August 2013

Nigeria: Eid Al-Fitr Free of Violence in Northern Nigeria

Gombe — Muslims around the world have been celebrating Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. Security was tight in northern Nigeria which has been a target of insurgent attacks.

Together with fellow believers around the world, Nigerian Muslims have been celebrating Eid al-Fitr, the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, with lavish feasts and religious services.

In Nigeria, the government declared Thursday and Friday to be days of celebration.

President Goodluck Jonathan called on Nigerian Muslims to celebrate the festival with love and unity. "God Almighty will hearken to the supplications of the faithful and bless Nigeria even more abundantly with peace, political stability and national prosperity," Jonathan was quoted as saying by local newspaper Premium Times.

Speaking to DW, some residents in northern Nigeria said they were celebrating this year's Eid with special feelings of thankfulness that there had been no major outbreak of violence. Attacks by militants in the region have left thousands dispersed and dozens killed.

"I am thanking God for sparing our lives. We witnessed a peaceful Ramadan passing. Today is a Sallah (Eid al-Fitr) day and if you look around you can see how people are celebrating. It is quiet and peaceful everywhere and we thank God for that," Alhassan Yaya, a resident of the northern city of Gombe, said.

Even if the prices of basic food have skyrocketed, many muslims celebrated the festivity lavishly

Another Gombe resident, Nasiru Ibrahim, said he would like to urge other Muslims in the north to "continue with the lesson of Ramadan and to pray for the country, peace and unity. As per now, we thank God for the security situation we find ourselves in now."

Tight security

Combined teams of policemen and soldiers were present as thousands of Muslims converged on different sites of worship prayers. This came after a series of bombings and attacks on places of worship, especially in the northern part of the country.

As part of the security measures, Muslims who attended the prayers were allowed only to carry prayer mats as they entered the premises.

Last week the military Joint Task Force (JTF) warned residents of Maiduguri, the Borno state capital, and the surrounding area that Islamist sect Boko Haram was planning to carry out more attacks during the concluding days of Ramadan.

Security officials were also stationed along major highways, while vehicles using the roads were thoroughly checked.

Following warnings from the security forces, security was tight during the celebrations

Muhammed Bello is a lecturer in the department of history at Gombe State University. He told DW that considering the economic and security situation in northern Nigeria, it was good news that "there have not been any reports of attacks in any of the northern states."

Despite the economic hardship, traders recorded high patronage by Muslim faithful even as the prices of basic food items skyrocketed in most markets across the country.

In Gombe, smartly dressed youths also used the celebration day to visit some entertainment and sports sites, as families sat down together to share their food and break the fast together.

Northern Nigeria has been a target of attacks since the insurgency began in 2009. The number of people killed is put at more than 2,000.

In mid-May the government declared a state of emergency in several north-eastern states, as the military continued to search for members of Boko Haram.

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