Amidst the second wave of the pandemic, Bangladeshis are filled with rage because of Israel's ruthless airstrikes on Palestine.
Poverty, frequent natural disasters and other socio-economic dilemmas – nothing could affect the long traditional celebration of Eid-ul-Fitr in the South Asian nation of Bangladesh for many generations. On Eid, Muslims in the country usually visit each other. The hosts treat guests with homemade delicacies like Payesh, a sweet and spicy rice pudding. Payesh is offered to neighbours, poor people and people from other faiths, too.
Hindus, Buddhists and Christians offer Eid wishes to Muslims and Muslims in turn entertain them with desserts and feasts. Eid symbolises tolerance, ethnic harmony and multiculturalism in Bangladesh, a country with a population of 170 million people.
But this time, the Eid festivities were marred by both the economic and emotional impact of the pandemic as well as Israel's naked aggression on Palestine, which claimed 119 Palestinian lives, including 31 children, and injured over 800 more.
Bangladesh has supported the Palestinian cause for many decades. The people of Bangladesh have always protested the Zionist Israeli occupation whenever they have imposed war and committed atrocities against Palestinians.
In the 1980s, the government of Bangladesh released a postal card supporting the rights of the Palestinian Muslims and condemning Israeli aggression.
As Israeli jets continue to pound Gaza and mobs go berserk in Palestinian neighbourhoods, Bangladesh's Foreign Ministry strongly condemned Israel's attack on the worshippers at Al Aqsa mosque, calling it "the attacks of terrorist nature and violence unleashed on the innocent devotees and civilians at Al Aqsa mosque compound.”
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday urged the international community to take sustainable measures to end such "heinous acts" anywhere and everywhere in the world, including Palestine.
The people of Bangladesh are shocked by Israel's disregard for human rights and its penchant for waging war on Palestine. Bangladeshi people have often come out on the streets and put up massive demonstrations, formed human chains, to express their anger and resentment against the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
“How can I enjoy the Eid while my Palestinian brothers and sisters are being killed systematically by the inhuman Zionist Israeli forces?” said Oliur Rahman, a student of a private university in Dhaka.
The festival amid a raging pandemic
Every year, Mohammad Mohiuddin, 50, a small trader from a remote Bangladeshi district of Barguna, celebrated Eid with great zeal. He bought new dresses for his children and some of his neighbours. He donated money to needy people, which is one of the significant teachings in Islam. The pandemic however changed all that. Since last year, he has been incurring massive losses in his business.
According to a recent study, at least 3 percent of Bangladesh's labour force has lost jobs, while 16.38 million people have fallen into poverty due to the pandemic.
“My income has reduced to one-fourth of what I used to earn before the pandemic. It’s become hard to even celebrate Eid and meet the basic needs of my family," Mohiuddin said.
The fear of the virus has been psychologically taxing as the highly transmissible Indian variants have been detected in the country.
The government on Wednesday warned of further deterioration of public health if social distancing and other measures weren't taken into consideration. Tens of thousands of people have already left the capital city Dhaka and other adjoining urban areas to celebrate Eid in their respective villages. They did not pay any heed to the government's appeal to abstain from traveling from one place to another.
Although public transport was taken off the roads, people still took long journeys in private minibuses, lorries, trucks and water ferries. Five people were killed on Wednesday in a stampede. Several dozen people have reportedly fallen sick with Covid-19 after taking a ferry ride.