The Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which began on May 27, will come to an end at sundown on Sunday, June 25. During this time, operations in Afghanistan may come to a virtual standstill as Muslims 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, stock exchanges, and services (including administrative services) that will close or significantly reduce their hours of operation on Sunday evening and potentially into Monday. As this period is typically marked by increased travel, heavy road traffic after sundown along with other transportation disruptions (crowded airports, etc.) is to be anticipated.
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.
A major terrorist attack took place during Ramadan this year, on May 31, in Kabul’s diplomatic quarter when a suicide truck bombing killed approximately 100 people and injured over 400 others. Afghan intelligence services believe the Haqqani network - an integral part of the Taliban organization - was responsible for the attack. However, the Taliban have repeatedly denied responsibility for the attack.
Afghanistan’s official state religion is Islam, which is practiced by nearly 99 percent of the population. The majority of the population supports some form of sharia law, a legal code based on the Quran and other Islamic scripture, as the official law of the land in their country.
Individuals in Afghanistan are advised to allow for additional travel time, to remain vigilant, and to avoid large public gatherings.
As always, due to major security concerns individuals throughout Afghanistan, travelers are urged to keep a safe distance from military convoys, government buildings, and crowded urban areas. Many Western governments advise their citizens against travel to Afghanistan due to the high threat of kidnapping and terrorism, including frequent attacks against Afghan National Defense and Security Forces, local civilians and politicians, and individuals working in the humanitarian and reconstruction fields. Travel to the country should only be undertaken with proper security protocols in place.
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