The Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which began on May 27, will come to an end at sundown on Saturday, June 24, or Sunday, June 25 (depending on the moon). During this time, Muslims in Myanmar will gather to pray and celebrate with family and friends. While practices vary by area, Eid al-Fitr celebrations are likely to have an impact on many businesses and services in Muslim communities that will close or significantly reduce their hours of operation beginning on Saturday or Sunday evening; similar disruptions could also continue into subsequent days.
While Myanmar is largely Buddhist, the Rohingya minority – a group of more than 1 million Muslims who primarily live in western Myanmar’s Rakhine state – are likely to celebrate Eid al-Fitr. Areas that may experience secular tensions include Rakhine State as well as the capital city of Yangon. Buddhist nationalists were arrested in Yangon on May 12 for inciting violence in a Muslim neighborhood and “hunting for ‘illegal’ Rohingya.”
Eid al-Fitr celebrates the conclusion of 30 days of dawn-to-sunset fasting and remains one of the most important dates on the Muslim calendar. Generally speaking, the month of Ramadan is historically marred by a significant increase in terrorist threats and as such there is a potential for attacks to be carried out during Eid celebrations.
Nationalists within Myanmar’s Buddhist majority have become increasingly hostile toward the country’s Muslim minority communities in recent months, holding protests and preventing Islamic religious ceremonies from being held. Two schools were recently closed temporarily over accusations that they were serving as mosques.
Individuals in Myanmar are advised to remain vigilant and to avoid large public gatherings.
As a precautionary measure, many Western governments and Myanmar authorities advise travelers against all but essential travel to Rakhine state except the southern townships of Kyaukpyu, Ramree, Munaung, Toungup, Thandwe (including the tourist resort of Ngapali), and Gwa. Individuals present in western Myanmar should avoid nonessential travel to the region bordering Bangladesh.
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