Gazans face familiar problems during Ramadan fast
Published Saturday 04/08/2012 (updated) 12/08/2012 11:07
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GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- During Ramadan in the Gaza Strip, the political and economic problems facing its residents are never far away.
For the duration of the Holy Month, in almost every Palestinian village, a volunteer walks the streets an hour or two before dawn, beating his drum to wake people up for the Suhoor, or pre-fast meal, before the dawn prayers.
This man is called a Misahhiraty in Arabic, deriving from the word Suhoor.
Ramadan drummers in villages and cities usually shout religious phrases urging people to wake up and eat their pre-fast meal. They remind people of the Prophet Muhammad's teachings concerning the Ramadan fast.
However, political issues have found their way into the Holy Month in Gaza.
Instead of religious phrases and quotes, some drummers have been praying out loud that a reconciliation agreement will be reached between Hamas and Fatah.
"Oh God, unite us during Ramadan", "Oh God, reconcile Hamas and Fatah during Ramadan," they shout.
With these words and his drum, Alaa an-Najjar wakes the people of Gaza City every dawn. When Ma'an's reporter asked him why he shouts such unfamiliar phrases, he said, "reconciliation has become a wish for all the Palestinians in the West Bank and in Gaza."
What spoils the drummer's job is that most people are already awake by the time he starts, sitting on the streets as he comes to wake them.
They are not homeless, nor outside to watch any event, they sit on the streets to cool off because they can't tolerate the high temperatures in their homes and don't have electricity during most of the night.
"Since several months, we spend the night in front of the house waiting for a cool breeze because there is no electricity to operate fans or air conditioning," a boy tells Ma'an's reporter.
He and his family usually eat the Suhoor meal using candles to light the room.
"We don't have fuel to run home generators. When we decide to get some fuel, we have to wait in queue for hours under the heat of the sun."