Central Asia Marks Eid Al-Adha Amid Coronavirus Restrictions

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Muslims in Central Asia are marking one of the major Islamic holidays, Eid al-Adha, while trying to adhere to coronavirus restrictions for the second year in a row amid a surge in new COVID-19 cases.

Eid al-Adha, the Feast of the Sacrifice, is celebrated by Muslims with one of the center points being the sharing of meat from sacrificed animals among relatives, friends, and people in need.

In Uzbekistan, the region’s most-populous nation of 32 million, people marked the holiday on July 20 at homes as public celebrations and collective prayers at mosques were forbidden.

Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoev, in his holiday message, called the ban on public celebrations of the holiday "the right decision."

In recent weeks, Uzbekistan has tightened restrictions amid a surge of COVID-19 cases across the country. In total, 120,631 coronavirus cases and 805 COVID-related deaths have been officially registered in the tightly controlled nation.

In Kazakhstan, where all public celebrations of the holiday were also banned, the government created a website via which people could pay for the slaughtering of an animal they chose online and the consequent distribution of meat among the people, groups, or mosques they chose. The site also allows people in need to ask for free meat.

With almost 500,000 cases, the most in the region, Kazakhstan has been hard hit by the virus. One bright spot came on July 20 when the government said that for the first time in weeks, the daily number of new coronavirus cases decreased.

In Kyrgyzstan, collective prayers in mosques were allowed on condition of preserving sanitary and epidemiologic requirements such as social distancing, while celebrations and prayers in other public sites were banned.

Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov used his holiday message on July 20 to urge all his countrymen to get vaccinated.

According to the latest official figures, the total number of coronavirus cases in Kyrgyzstan is 151,607, including 2,196 deaths.

In Tajikistan, collective prayers in mosques and their territories on the day of Eid al-Adha were allowed this year.

Tajik officials say the total number of coronavirus cases in the country is 14,177, including 112 deaths, but many in Tajikistan say the real number is much higher.

Source: Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.