lundi 7 novembre 2011

Tunisia celebrates Eid al-Adha for the first time without Ben Ali

The last moments of these two sheep...

Sunday and Monday are holidays as Tunisia celebrates Islam’s most important religious holiday of the year: Eid al-Adha. For two days, city streets will be deserted and most if not all restaurants and businesses will be closed.

For those not familiar with the ritual, this celebration commemorates the willingness of Ibrahim to sacrifice his son Isma'il as an act of obedience to God, before God intervened to provide him with a sheep to sacrifice instead. For this reason many Muslims celebrate by slaughtering a sheep and feasting on it with their families.

This celebration is held during Hajj, an annual pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia. Depending on the country, the manner of celebrating Eid al-Adha can have variations: the sacrificed animal may be a sheep, a lamb, a cow or a goat. In Tunisia, most people chose a sheep and purchase it a few days or weeks before the holiday. Sheep are frequently seen and heard all around the cities in the week preceding Eid al-Adha.

Even if the number of slaughtered sheep has increased since last year (900,000 vs 830,000 in 2010), businesses are slow in many parts of the country due to recent floods. Bad weather has also affected the price of cattle. A young man visiting his family for the holidays discussed prices, “the average cost is between 250 and 400 dinars. After shopping around a bit, I found a merchant that sold me two good sheep 265 dinars each”.

The two sheep a couple of hours later

The Arab world

Not surprisingly, Eid al-Adha 2011 has a special connotation for Tunisia, Egypt and Libya who celebrate it for the first time since the fall of the regimes that ruled their countries. This isn’t the case though for other Arab countries still in the throes of a revolution.

The ABS-CNS news website summarised the situation in an article depicting the violent confrontations that occured in many countries such as Syria and Yemen. In Syria, instead of going to pray at a mosque, many people protested in the streets demanding the departure of president Bachar al-Assad. Pro-democratic militants reported that ten protestors had been killed. In Yemen, manifestations began after morning prayers in approximately 30 cities.

Finally, a slip-up (article in French) on Saturday by the Tunisian television chain El Wataniya. As they were airing archival shows related to Eid al-Adha celebrations, the program ran images of a singer paying tribute to former dictator Ben Ali! The station quickly issued an apologetic statement and promised to sanction whoever was responsible for this gaffe.

Aucun commentaire:

Enregistrer un commentaire