Advisory: EID AL-ADHA

Muslim observers are poised to celebrate one of Islam’s holiest festivals, Eid Al-Adha, the “Feast of Sacrifice” or the Greater Eid, from August 11st to the 15th. Eid Al-Adha is observed by Muslims as a commemoration of the day when Prophet Abraham was to sacrifice his son Ismail as an act of submission to God’s command. Instead, Abraham was instructed to sacrifice an animal. According to the Islamic calendar, the festival is annually marked on the tenth day of Dhul Hiijah, the final month in the Islamic calendar, thus varying in the Gregorian calendar.

Under Islamic faith, an animal is to be sacrificed for Eid Al-Adha’s ceremonial practice, and observers are encouraged to divide the meat into three parts: one third is shared with the poor and disadvantaged, another third is shared with relatives, friends and neighbours, and the final third is retained for the family. In addition to traditional practices, major concerts and festivals are scheduled during the period. Malls, shopping areas and restaurants will be crowded, and consequently, security measures in Muslim-majority nations and communities will be heightened due to security concerns.

Additionally, Hajj, the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Islam’s holiest site of Mecca, and one of the five pillars of Islam, begins on August 9, the 8th day of the month of Dhu Al-Hijjah and will continue until August 14. Every year, millions of Muslim observers from around the world arrive to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, to perform the ritual. A day of optional fasting will also take place on the Day of Arafat, the second day of Hajj and the day prior to the start of Eid Al-Adha.

In previous years, Islamist militant groups have issued threats of attacks during country-wide festivities and encouraged their sympathizers to launch attacks. While no militant group has issued explicit threats against this year’s Eid al-Adha festivities, several arrests have been made in connection to potential imminent attacks. 

In Iraq, security forces reportedly arrested alleged members of an Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, ISIS, cell planning to carry out an attack during Eid Al-Adha in Anbar’s Ramadi district. Meanwhile in Syria, security forces arrested a woman who allegedly belonged to an ISIS sleeper cell that was planning to carry out a suicide operation in Qamishli, Al-Hasakah, on the first morning of Eid Al-Adha. 

The extremist orthodox Jewish group, the Temple Mount, have called on its members to raid Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque during Eid Al-Adha. The group has even posted on social media platforms the intended time of the raids, and urged Israeli security forces to facilitate their entry. 

On August 2, the United States Embassy in the Ukraine issued a security alert to US citizens warning that militant groups, including ISIS, may use the region’s festivities as windows for attacks. The alert cited Eid al-Adha and Ukrainian Independence Day as possible targets, calling on its citizens to take extra precautions. 

Other non-security related advisories were also issued by airports and airlines, calling on travellers to allocate extra travel time to avoid delays. 

Relatedly, observing Muslim festivities in non-Muslim majority countries may pose a risk for Islamophobic attacks. The rise in far-right terrorism and white nationalism-fuelled violence in the United States and Europe may pose a threat to Muslim observers celebrating publicly and en masse. The prevalence of firearms in the United States may increase the risk of heightened violence in houses of worship or publicly held festivities. 

RECOMMENDATIONS

IN MUSLIM-MAJORITY COUNTRIES:

  • During the day, calm traffic is expected, while evenings are expected to witness increased traffic congestion
  • Expect increased presence in shopping areas and malls during the observation of Eid
  • Expect increased security presence at airports, malls, festivals and in the streets
  • Public institutions such as government offices and foreign embassies will be closed
  • Muslim-owned local businesses will remain closed for the duration of Eid Al-Adha
  • Maintain heightened situational awareness and exercise caution and discretion in public places
  • Clients are encouraged to avoid holy places of worship; if attendance is required, clients should consider house of worship with a substantial police and security presence around the sites and perimeter
  • Expect added wait time to clear security checks and passport control at airports
  • Prior to travelling, ensure only need-to-know personnel are aware of holiday plans
  • If traveling via vehicle, clients are encouraged to avoid remote desert roads or desolate areas, and plan for alternative routes
  • If traveling domestically long distances, clients are encouraged to avoid travel via vehicle and opt for domestic flights
  • Ensure homes are secure and valuable belongings put in a safe place as robberies are more likely to occur during popular holiday seasons

IN NON-MUSLIM-MAJORITY COUNTRIES:

  • Maintain heightened situational awareness and exercise caution and discretion in public places
  • Avoid engaging in public political or religious debates
  • Avoid areas frequented by a prevalence of hooliganism 

LATEST