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Albania: Ramadan celebrations begin May 26-27

Muslims in Albania to begin celebrating Ramadan May 26-27; anticipate heightened security and possible reduced business hours in major urban areas

TIMEFRAME expected from 18/5/2017, 12h00 until 18/5/2017, 11h59 (Europe/Tirane). COUNTRY/REGION Albania

Event

On May 26-27, Muslims in Albania and elsewhere in the world will begin their month-long celebration of Ramadan. The end of the month of Ramadan, marked by Eid-el-Fitr celebrations, will take place on June 25. Though practices can vary by country, some businesses, restaurants, and government administrations may operate on a reduced schedule during this holy month.

Transportation disruptions are to be anticipated during this period due to increased number of travelers, especially in airports. Heavy traffic after dusk (particularly on 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.

Local authorities typically report more incidents of petty crime during this period. Additionally, it should be noted that Albania has recently been shaken by political crisis, which has led to multiple protests. Despite reaching an agreement between the opposition and the government, tensions could flare up again as parliamentary elections are set to take place on June 18.

Context

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 and abstain from certain activities.

On a more general note, this period also marks a significant increase in the terror threat in mostly Muslim countries. In recent years, IS, as well as other groups, have called on their fighters to perpetrate attacks during the holy month of Ramadan. On June 26, 2015, IS fighters killed 39 people in an attack targeting Sousse, Tunisia. The same day, a similar attack also claimed by IS targeted a Mosque during Friday's noon prayers in Kuwait City, killing 27 people. In 2016, members of Jordan security forces were killed on June 21 in a car bomb. In Lebanon a series of suicide attacks killed six people. In Turkey, on the evening of June 28, 2016, an attack carried out by three gunmen/suicide bombers was perpetrated at Istanbul-Atatürk International Airport (IST), leaving 44 people dead and scores of others injured. As such, this period is marked by a higher terror threat, especially in Middle Eastern and some African and Asian countries.

Advice

Individuals in Albania are advised remain aware of their surroundings and to report any suspicious behavior. Although fasting is not strictly enforced as it is in some other countries, it is advised not to eat, drink, or smoke in public throughout this period in more conservative neighborhoods or areas. Travelers are also advised to allow additional time for travel and to avoid any form of public demonstration or public gathering.