On May 15-16 (depending on the moon in various locations around the world), Muslims will begin their month-long celebration of Ramadan. The end of the month of Ramadan, marked by the Eid-el-Fitr celebrations, will take place between June 14-16 (depending on the country and when Ramadan started). Many businesses, restaurants, and government administrations are expected to operate on a reduced schedule during this holy month. Diplomatic missions may also operate on a similar schedule.
Transportation disruptions are to be anticipated during this period due to an increased number of travelers, especially in airports. Heavy traffic after sundown is to be anticipated as Muslims typically gather for festivities and to eat with family, especially over weekends. Furthermore, traffic accidents tend to increase during Ramadan (especially at dusk) due to a combination of hunger, dehydration, exhaustion, and impatience.
Tight security measures are also to be expected due to a heightened terror threat during this period. Local authorities also typically observe an increase in incidents of petty crime during this period.
Kyrgyzstan's largest ethnic groups are Muslim (75 percent) and Russian Orthodox (20 percent).
Kyrgyz authorities believe that over 500 citizens from the country have left to join the transnational terrorist group the Islamic State (IS); nearly 5000 fighters from Central Asia are estimated to have traveled to Iraq and Syria to fight for IS. With IS losing territory steadily in both Iraq and Syria, it is possible that more Kyrgyz foreign fighters will attempt to return home, potentially to carry out terrorist attacks. More generally, the Ramadan period also marks a significant increase in the regional terror threat in many Muslim-majority countries across the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.
Ramadan is a period of reflection and self-restraint and carries great significance within the Muslim calendar. Muslims traditionally observe daytime fasting and are called to practice increased devotion.
Individuals Kyrgyzstan are advised to avoid eating, drinking, or smoking in public by day during this period. Travelers are also advised to allow additional time for travel and to avoid any form of public demonstration or public gathering. Travelers are advised to remain aware of their surroundings and to report any suspicious behavior, especially considering the increased terrorist risk.
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