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Muslims gather in Chinese mosques to celebrate

In northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, over 20 million Muslims are celebrating at over 24,000 mosques. In the regional capital Urumqi, over 10,000 have gathered in one mosque for morning prayer.

Late comers can only stay outside. At 7:30 in the morning, Muslims began to gather at this 120-year-old Yang Hang mosque in Urumqi, for the prayers of the Eid al-Fitr.

The prayer lasted about half an hour. There are young men, fathers and sons, there are grandfathers. Local staff said there are an estimated 11,000 people here for this prayer. The constant chantings can be heard all around the immediate area. After the prayer, they will hurry home to enjoy the Eid al-Fitr festival with their families.

“I’m happy. It’s our festival these days. I’m happy to have come to this prayer”, “I’ve prepared for the festival. We cleaned the house, and bought good food and new clothes.”

Every day during Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn to dusk, that’s over 17 hours here in Xinjiang. And it was very challenging. “Ramadan was not easy for me. It was really hot, too. But now it has finally ended.”

Free porridge, various fruits and drinks are available at the mosque’s dining room. So some choose to break the fast at the mosque, together with their friends and neighbors.

It’s a three-day holiday here in Xinjiang — it goes on until July 20. And with the hot weather forecast for the region, it’s going to be a very relaxing weekend.