EGYPT: EID AL-FITR 2019

WHAT IS EID AL-FITR?

On the evening of June 4 or June 5, depending on the sighting of the new crescent moon, Muslim observers around the world will mark the end of the holy month of Ramadan and the beginning of Eid Al-Fitr, also known as the ‘Festival of Breaking the Fast.’ Eid Al-Fitr is a three-day celebration that signals the first three days of Shawwal, the tenth month of the Islamic calendar. Travelling, attending festivals and concerts, as well as visiting relatives and friends is the norm throughout Eid. Relatedly, nightlife comes back to life after a month of increased devotion to God and fasting. 

Eid Al-Fitr is among one of the liveliest celebrations for observing Muslims. The following day of Eid Al-Fitr, worshippers arrive to the mosque early in the morning to listen to the khutba [sermon] and greet each other with Eid Mubarak [‘Have a blessed day’]. 

Eid will be celebrated on different dates across Muslim-majority states due to the varying sightings of the moon, with the number of holidays to be determined by the authorities. Working hours of commercial and business areas may be altered during the celebrations. 

Due to previous militant attacks and a heightened risk of attacks during this period, Muslim -majority countries have imposed tight security measures, aiming to deter attacks that may occur in large crowds, festivals, and touristic and public gatherings. 

ICESERVE24 identified the overall potentiality of militant attacks in major European cities from low to medium. To read more on Islamophobia and the rise of far-right groups in Europe, contact us at info@iceserve24.com

EGYPT – THREAT ANALYSIS

The risk of militant attacks remains high during this period both for Muslim and non-Muslim observants across Egypt. Despite more than a year passing since the launch of Comprehensive Operation Sinai – a military and security operation aiming to eliminate active militant groups in addition to narcotics and arms smuggling and human trafficking networks – the threat of attacks targeting civilians and security forces persists. 

Places of worship, public gatherings, buses and security installations remain the most common targets of militant attacks in Egypt during religious worship and celebration periods. Eid prayers will only be conducted in areas designated by the authorities to ensure the protection of the worshippers. 

Eid prayers in Beheira

Security and military forces have increased operations ahead of Eid Al-Fitr, with troops and police working to secure vital facilities and crowded areas, as well as monitoring vehicle movement and conducting extensive searches. Due to the increased risk of militant attacks during this period, authorities are more actively engaged in operations, and vigilant to uncover illegal criminal and militant activity. On May 31, 2019, it was reported that security forces arrested 28 individuals in Giza for possession of drugs and another five for possession of firearms and cartridges. 

Relatedly, on June 11 of last year, security forces arrested four individuals for allegedly planning attacks aiming to target vital facilities during Eid Al-Fitr, and forming a militant cell within the Damanhour University, in Beheira governorate. Other reports claimed that security forces killed four militants in Al-Ubaidat neighbourhood, Arish city, North Sinai governorate, during a fire exchange, on the same day. No attack was recorded during Eid Al-Fitr last year. 

Egypt remains under a state of emergency since it was first imposed in April 2017, following deadly attacks on the Coptic St. Mark’s Cathedral in Alexandria and St. George in Tanta city, Gharbia governorate, on Palm Sunday. The state of emergency has last been renewed on April 25, 2019, for the eighth time. During Eid Al-Fitr, however, the state of emergency is partially lifted to accommodate the conduct of the festivities, while at the same time the local authorities are on high alert to respond to emergency situations relating to security incidents, health hazards, accidents and illegal trade. For its part, the Ministry of Antiquities announced the readiness of Giza’s Pyramids to welcome an increased number of visitors amid intense security measures, to soothe security concerns following a recent improvised explosive device (IED) attack targeting a tourist bus near the Pyramids. 

Militant attacks outside North Sinai are more likely to target military or security forces, checkpoints or vehicles transporting tourists and worshippers, however public celebrations and large gatherings are also a potential target during this period. Cairo and Giza are the main governorates to have experienced the most recent militant attacks against civilians. 

ICESERVE24‘S RECOMMENDATIONS 

  • Be aware that public employees will enjoy a three-day holiday, from June 4 to June 6, while private employees will be granted paid leave for the first two days of Eid. 
  • Maintain heightened situational awareness and exercise caution and discretion in public places, destinations and resorts. 
  • Always carry personal documentation or copies of your documentation on your person to facilitate security checks. 
  • If travelling, arrive at the airport three hours prior to flight to avoid delay due to heavy congestion. 
  • Anticipate increased security presence in shopping centres, themed-parks, festivals and airports. 
  • Anticipate heavy traffic and searches on entrance and exit points of main areas of festivities. 
  • Report any suspicious objects or behaviour to the authorities. 
  • In case of emergency, contact your security coordinator. 
  • Subscribe to ICESERVE24’s ICEALERTS 24/7 critical incident alerts application and ICETRACK satellite tracking to be informed of important incidents occurring across the country. 

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