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Turmoil poisons joy of Ramadan in Egypt
Friday July 12, 2013 11:51 PM, IANS

As the Islamic holy month of Ramadan begins in Egypt, Ayah Alaa, in her 20s, hardly feels any joy. She constantly thinks of the death of two of her neighbours in recent clashes between supporters and opponents of deposed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

"My family was planning to hang colourful ornaments in the streets, huge lanterns in front of the house, but the death of our friends poisoned such pleasant moments," she told Xinhua.

Protesters against Morsi took to the streets June 30 to demand his ouster for maladministration since he came to power a year ago. After Morsi failed to respond, he was removed by the military July 3.

At least 51 people were killed and over 450 injured in clashes between security forces and supporters of Morsi outside the place where the ousted leader is being kept by the military.

Hanaa Ahmed, a 55-year-old housewife, told Xinhua she does not feel like observing the holy month like old times, as the unrest had made them unable to prepare for the month 15 days before it begins, which they usually do.

People used to flock to markets ahead of the fasting month to buy supplies known as "Ramadan Yamish", but merchants said the business is poor now.

"Sales are declining compared to the period before June 30," said Amro Quotb, a Yamish merchant.

Even in the worst times in the past, Egyptians still bought Ramadan stuff, but now, people are afraid of going out, said 40-year-old Quotb.

Rehab Mohamed, an accountant in her 30s, likes to hold banquets for her family and friends during Ramadan.

But she said when she went to a supermarket in downtown Cairo to buy Ramadan food, the market was almost empty.

"Praying in groups with our friends in big mosques is the most important pillar of Ramadan, but I'm afraid I won't be able to go to mosques this year over worries of violence," she said.

Morsi's supporter and opponents have both taken to mosques to deliver speeches, which could easily clashes, she added.

Banquets and tents offering ready-made food for the poor can be seen along the streets.

But markets organised by Islamists, mainly from the Muslim Brotherhood, that offer commodities such as pasta, rice, sugar with cheap costs, have vanished.

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