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Gulf | Yemen

Yemenis plan celebrations in shadow of unrest

Protesters and ordinary citizens make arrangements to enjoy Eid Al Adha in the face of civil strife and violence

  • By Saeed Al Batati, Correspondent
  • Published: 00:00 November 4, 2011
  • Gulf News

Picture for illustrative purposes only
  • Image Credit: Reuters
  • Sacrificial goats on sale at a market in Yemen. The prices of sheep shoot up during the Eid season. A good sheep costs about Dh550 —the salary of most of Yemenis.

Sana'a: As the Muslim world prepares to celebrate Eid Al Adha, Yemenis will mark the occasion in the shadow of the deep political crisis in the country.

Citizens in the capital, however, are determined to celebrate the festival wholeheartedly despite the fact that President Ali Abdullah Saleh still clings to power with no solution in sight to break the deadlock.

On the eve of Eid, Yemenis have begun visiting places of prayer dressed in their best, women at home are busy decorating their hands with henna and children are going door to door seeking Eidi (money given to children on the auspicious occasion).

In culturally-rich Yemen, each district has its own traditions. People who work outside rural areas take a holiday to celebrate the festival with their families.

Abdullah, who owns a grocery in the eastern port city of Mukkalla, has travelled to his hometown in northern Yemen. "We eagerly wait for this Eid to spend some time with the family. We organise many events such as poetry recitals, music sessions and visits to friends, relatives and neighbours," he said.

For the second time since the beginning of the uprising against Saleh, thousands of protesters are planning to spend the joyful occasion in makeshift camps. The protesters have been barricaded in most of the provinces since early this year to force Saleh to quit.

Abdul Nasser Al Kamali, a leader of the student-led revolution in Taiz, told Gulf News that protesters in the city have planned programmes aimed at entertaining protesters during Eid Al Adha.

"We have arranged visits to the families of dead protesters, the injured in hospital and even to graves. Women protesters have taken the initiative and will prepare cakes, cookies and bread for protesters camping in city squares. We will also distribute chocolate, juice and dessert."

Al Kamali said lavish meals have been arranged for the protesters. "We will sacrifice goats and cook food in the city squares. The families of protesters who are from outside the city will be given gifts and clothes."

There are also hundreds of local non-government organisations (NGOs) actively working to share part of the Eid celebration expenses. For most Yemenis, these charitable associations have significantly alleviated their suffering.

As many Yemenis cannot afford to buy animals to sacrifice, thousands of sheep and goats are slaughtered every year and the meat is given to the poor.

The prices of sheep shoot up during this season. A good sheep costs $150 (Dh550) — the salary of most of Yemenis.

During Eid in particular, the Hadramout-based Al Badya Charitable Foundation is at the forefront of these altruistic deeds.

Charity

Since the beginning of Haj, the foundation is planning to spend approximately $190,000 on charity.

Mohammad Jouma'an Dahlwas, an official in the foundation, told Gulf News that the foundation would help 42 partner charitable associations carry out programmes across the country. "The programmes include distributing meat, money, dates, food and clothes. We have recruited dozens of young men for that purpose."

The foundation, which receives most of its donations from businessmen in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait, is planning to slaughter 1,000 goats for 10 days. "Each poor family will be given an amount of money depending on the urgency of its needs," Dahlwas said.

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