Nova Scotia

Turmoil in Egypt changes Ramadan for Halifax families

Some Egyptian families in Nova Scotia say they're changing the way they mark Ramadan this year due to the politics and continuing demonstrations in their home country.

'Once we talk, the arguments will start'

Supporters of deposed Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi protested outside his place of detention in Cairo earlier this month while a military-driven plan to resolve the political crisis remained mired in mistrust and confusion. (Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters)

Some Egyptian families in Nova Scotia say they're changing the way they mark Ramadan this year due to the politics and continuing demonstrations in their home country.

Ahmed Assal, who came to Halifax in 2000 from Egypt, said the holy month of Ramadan — when Muslims abstain from food and drink from sunrise to sunset — is typically a festive occasion when it comes time to break the fast.

"It's a nice moment when you everybody gathers, thanks Allah that Allah gives us this moment to share together," he said.

"You look at your wife, your kids, everybody is happy. You are happy."

Three years ago, Assal formed the Nova Scotia Egyptian Society to help preserve his Egyptian culture and heritage and to be able to pass it on to his kids.

His group includes seven Egyptian families who traditionally get together during the month of Ramadan — but not this year.

"Once we will sit, everybody is going to talk. Once we talk, the arguments will start," said Assal.

Earlier this month, armed forces ousted Egypt's first democratically elected president — Mohammed Morsi — after just a year in power and installed a temporary civilian government while suspending the constitution and calling for new elections.

It was the culmination of a stunning four-day anti-Morsi revolt that brought out the biggest anti-government rallies Egypt has seen, topping even those of 2011 that forced the ousting of longtime President Hosni Mubarak.

Clashes have erupted multiple times between the Islamists and Morsi opponents or security forces. Dozens have been killed, mostly from the pro-Morsi side, including more than 50 killed by troops during clashes outside a military facility in eastern Cairo.

Hany Soliman, a member of the Nova Scotia Egyptian Society, said he doesn't feel like celebrating with others these days.

"When you are feeling like everything is collapsing, everything is messed over there," he said.

"There is people protesting and people died and it doesn't give you the normal feeling like we are all Egyptian. I don't get this feeling in this Ramadan."

The Nova Scotia Egyptian Society said it will celebrate Eid — the end of Ramadan — with the thousands of Muslims across Halifax.

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