Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar, celebrated by Muslims all over the world. It lasts between 29 and 30 days and is the Islamic month of fasting. During this period Muslims refrain from eating or drinking during daylight hours, which is meant to teach Muslims about patience, humility, spirituality and submissiveness to God.
However, at a time where countries such as Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Yemen and Syria are uprising against oppressive governments and dictators through various protests and demonstrations, many are wondering how Ramadan will affect all of this. Fasting in the heat of August is physically demanding says Nabila, a 31-year old teacher in Cairo. "Most, if not all, of the present demonstrations, strikes and sit-ins will end during Ramadan. Nobody will go out to protest or shout in the streets". So for hundreds of thousands of people, the holy month may be an interval to draw breath after long months of troubles, riots, protests and brutal repression. The rhythm of the ongoing revolutions will change and, with violence particularly abhorred during Ramadan on religious grounds, perhaps also the intensity.
Many fear the religious holiday will slow down the momentum, which may be difficult to pick back up again once Ramadan is over. There is also the fear that opposition forces may use this slow down as a chance to recoup and gain the upper hand against demonstrators. Colonel Gaddafi has even called for a cease-fire during Ramadan though some believe this is just a chance for him to embarrass NATO into suspending its military campaign and that his troops will never actually halt fighting.
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Though some demonstrations are still planned during Ramadan, such as in Egypt concerning whether the former President Mubarak will actually be put on trial, it is difficult to actually know whether or not other protestors will continue the momentum in their respective countries.
However, the situations in North Africa depend on the intensity and consistency of protestors and any major break in this could prove devastating for what some called the Arab Spring movement.
Photo credit: Reuters