Coronavirus ‘takes flavor out of Ramadan’ in North Afric
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by Abdelhafid Daamache with Tunis and Rabat bureaus
North Africans say they are missing the taste of Ramadan, as coronavirus restrictions deprive them of traditional mealtime gatherings, evening outings and beloved sweets during the Muslim holy month.
“It’s not the usual Ramadan,” said one woman shopping in Ariana, near the capital Tunis, looking desperately for the cakes and sweets that normally fill the stalls during the fasting month.
Ramadan is traditionally a time for worship and socialising.
The faithful refrain from consuming food and water during the day, breaking their fast at dusk with family and friends for a meal known as iftar, and often going out afterwards.
But this year, social distancing measures have largely put a stop to the usual Ramadan traditions.
Mosques in Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia have been closed to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, preventing special evening prayers.
There are no long nights of musical gatherings, and in the medina of Tunis, there are no Sufi-inspired “hadra” chants and no “stambali” — a mystical trance dance ritual.
The old cities of Rabat, Casablanca and Tunis, normally crowded after iftar, are like ghost towns.
“Even the meals that bring all the family together around the same table are impossible — I’m afraid for my parents, who are elderly and sick”, said Maissa, a 46-year-old teacher from Algiers.
“The coronavirus has taken all the flavour out of the holy month this year,” said the mother-of-four. (AFP)