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 in the region. Local authorities also 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.
Mauritania has been an Islamic republic since its independence in 1960. Sharia law was incorporated into its constitution in 1985, when Islam was declared the state religion. Atheism is punishable by death in the country, where nearly 100 percent of the population is Muslim.
Individuals in Mauritania 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.
On a more general note, individuals present in Mauritania should remain vigilant at all times due to various security concerns. Due to the threat of kidnapping, it is critical that foreigners remain discreet regarding personal details, particularly information concerning nationality, employment, family, etc.
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