Monday, 26 July 2010
Libya: Repeat of Ramadan controversy as dates look to be different from the rest of Islamic world
The start of the coming holy month of Ramadan may be a troubled occasion. This month, the Libyan Centre for Remote Sensing and Space Science, the official body responsible for calculating the dates of religious occasions linked to the lunar calendar, announced that Ramadan would start on 11 August and Eid on 9 September. Yet again these dates look likely to be different from those chosen by the rest of the Islamic world.
This issue prompted major anger last Eid, as many Libyans, led by outspoken preachers, refused to celebrate on the official date and decided instead to wait for the next day in order to be in line with the rest of the Islamic world. In a show of mass public defiance, people stayed away from the mosque on the official date and carried on as normal.
Given the strength of feeling over this issue and the repeated criticism that the Centre has come in for from preachers who were removed from their posts for questioning state policy but later reinstated after Saif al-Islam stepped in, setting Ramadan and Eid at a different time once again is a provocative gesture on the part of the state. Another display of public protest may well be on the cards.
For more news and expert analysis about Libya, please see Libya Focus and Libya Politics & Security.
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