On May 26-27, 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 on June 25. Though practices can vary by country, 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 (particularly over weekends) is to be anticipated as Muslims typically gather to celebrate the holy month with family. Furthermore, traffic accidents tend to increase during Ramadan (especially at dusk) due to a combination of exhaustion, hunger, dehydration, and impatience.
Additionally, expect tight security measures in major urban areas due to a heightened terror threat. In 2016, Islamic State (IS) called on its members to perpetrate attacks coinciding with Ramadan. Some regional terrorist groups followed suit. Finally, local authorities typically observe an increase in incidents of petty crime during this period.
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. Nearly 91 percent of the Kyrgyz population is Muslim and 35 percent of them support sharia law, a legal code based on the Quran and other Islamic scripture, as official law of the land in their country.
On a more general note, this period also marks a significant increase in the terror threat in many Muslim-majority countries.
Individuals in Kyrgyzstan are advised not to eat, drink, or smoke 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.
On a separate note, Western intelligence reports indicate that there is an increased risk of terrorist attacks in Kyrgyzstan. Individuals are advised to remain vigilant in public places (e.g. capital city Bishkek), to stay away from crowded areas, and to report any suspicious objects or behavior.
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