On the first day of Eid El-Fitr on Sunday, many Cairo streets are virtually empty as the coronavirus restrictions have kept many Egyptians at home.
Mohamed, 23, says the Muslim holiday is “rather depressing” this year.
“I’m locked up at home with my family doing nothing. There were no Eid prayers, no gatherings and no sign of the typical joy seen in the streets every year.”
Every year during the religious holiday, the young man travels with his family to their hometown in Sharqiya governorate to spend Eid with their extended family, and he would get up at dawn to perform the congregational Eid prayers at the town’s local mosque. But with the restrictive coronavirus measures, the day was marked with no family reunions or the special annual Eid prayers as mosques around the country have been shut since March.
In the capital, only the Al-Sayyida Nafisa and Al-Fattah Al-Alim mosques were permitted by the religious endowments ministry to hold the Eid prayers, with only around two dozen worshippers from the ministry employees and mosque workers allowed to attend in each mosque. The prayers were broadcast live on TV.
Some mosques broadcast the special “Takbirat Al-Eid” – repeated recitation of “Allahu Akbar” and other words of worship prior to Eid prayers – although they remain shut to worshippers.
Cinemas, coffee shops, parks and other recreational sites that are typically occupied during Eid are closed throughout this week due to the coronavirus.
But some young men in Cairo sought to challenge the exceptional conditions and chose to gather around their cars, while some families opted to drive around in their cars.
A view of a closed cinema during Eid al-Fitr, a Muslim festival marking the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, amid concerns about the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Cairo, Egypt, May 24, 2020. (Photo: Reuters)
Many pastry shops that sell traditional Eid cookies were shuttered on Sunday, and many announced they would either shut down during Eid or would only be selling their treats through delivery.
An ice cream shop in Zamalek closed on the first day of the three-day Eid El-Fitr holiday due to coronavirus measures, Cairo, Egypt, May 24, 2020 (Photo: Sama Osama)
"I was supposed to be at the beach now," Salma Karem said.
Karem would typically travel together with her extended family to spend the holiday in the North Coast, but she also had to abandon her traditional Eid plans as the country has closed public beaches during the holiday to curb the spread of the virus.
Instead, she got together with her father’s side of the family via video call.
Where Salma lives, mosques did not broadcast Takbirat Al-Eid, so her family put them on TV so they can get into the Eid spirit.
A view of Al-Ataba square during Eid al-Fitr, a Muslim festival marking the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, amid concerns about the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Cairo, Egypt, May 24, 2020. (Photo: Reuters)
In the city of Fayoum, southwest of Cairo, some kids were adamant to celebrate the Muslim holiday, lighting up fireworks on otherwise quiet streets, local resident Amira Abu Zeid told Ahram Online over phone.
The 25-year-old also halted her yearly ritual to be with her extended family and grandfather over fears of the virus.
Boats are parked on Nile river during Eid al-Fitr, a Muslim festival marking the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, in the old Islamic area of Cairo, amid concerns about the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Egypt, May 24, 2020. (Photo: Reuters)
Last week, Egypt announced it was imposing stricter measures during the Eid El-Fitr religious holiday, including extending the hours of the nightly curfew to begin on 5 pm instead of the previous 9 pm until Friday.
All shops, malls and beaches would continue to be shut and public transportation suspended throughout the six-day period.
Travel between governorates is also suspended. Only microbuses are allowed to operate normally in cities and between governorates before the curfew hours.