Arab Regimes Fear Ramadan will Be Month of Violence
Authorities in Syria fear the nightly prayers during Ramadan will transform every day into Friday.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 7/31/2011, 4:44 PM / Last Update: 7/31/2011, 5:13 PM
Arab governments in the Middle East are preparing for increased tensions during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan which may reignite the smoldering flames of uprisings that swept the region this year.
"Throughout history, Ramadan has been the month of revolutions and victory," Abdullah al-Amadi, director of the Qatar-based Islamonline website, explained to AFP. "I think it will inspire the youths of the Arab Spring to complete their struggles against injustice and tyranny."
Amadi said the Arab struggle could peak in the final ten days of Ramadan, believed to be the holiest of the month.
Authorities in Syria fear that the "Taraweeh" nightly Ramadan prayers will transform every day into a Friday, the Muslim holy day which is also the customary day for violence and mayhem.
AFP quoted a Facebook group called The Syrian Revolution 2011, which it called "a driving force of the protest movement," as writing: "The regime is afraid of Ramadan and the Taraweeh prayers," amid calls by Syrian activists for protests every night until dawn.
In Libya, a rebel fighting Muammar Qaddafi vowed to fast during the fighting: "If it's war and we're tired, we'll eat. But if we remain in a defensive position, we will fast. God is with us," said Hatem al-Jadi, 24, in Gualish, south of Tripoli.
Protesters camped out at a square Yemen's capital San'a since February say they are determined to revive their movement during Ramadan and finish the task of overthrowing President Ali Abdullah Saleh. "This will be the month of change, especially since Ali Abdullah Saleh is not in Yemen," said Walid al-Omari, an activist from Yemen's "Youth Revolution" group.
Other Arab governments are closely monitoring the prices of goods, which usually soar during Ramadan, in order to keep their people happy and unrebellious.
In Egypt, the government is taking measures to maintain the subsidy system that keeps very low prices for basic foodstuffs such as bread. In Saudi Arabia, the ministry of commerce has forced dairy producers to reconsider their decision to increase prices, and may cut the price of imported barley to prevent an increase in meat prices. And in the neighboring United Arab Emirates, the president has ordered that rice be subsidized during Ramadan.
Meanwhile, Muslim religious authorities in most of the Middle East determined that Ramadan will start Monday this year (the Muslim calendar is calculated anew every year, and different countries often determine different calendars. Like the Hebrew calendar which predates it by thousands of years, the Muslim calendar is lunar – but the Jewish calendar as established by Hillel the Second in 359 C.E. has seven leap months every 19 years, making yearly changes unnecessary).