Muslims attend Friday prayers at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, holy to both faiths as the burial site of Abraham.
(photo credit: MUSSA QAWASMA / REUTERS)
Palestinian Authority policemen on Tuesday arrested several members of the Hizb ut-Tahrir (Party of Liberation) in Hebron for celebrating the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
The PA mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Mohammed Hussein, announced on Monday that the first day of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan, will be Wednesday.
“The Palestinian Fatwa Council (Dar al-Iftaa), which convened on Monday night at al-Aqsa Mosque compound, could not spot the Shawwal crescent moon,” the mufti said in a statement. “Therefore, it has been proven that Tuesday is complementary to the fasting month of Ramadan and Wednesday June 5 will be the first day of Eid al-Fitr festival.”
However, several Arab and Islamic countries announced that Eid al-Fitr begins Tuesday, sparking controversy among many Arabs and Muslims. In addition to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates announced that the festival begins Tuesday, and not Wednesday.
Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan and the Palestinians, on the other hand, are celebrating the end of Ramadan only on Wednesday.
Hizb ut-Tahrir, a pan-Islamist political organization with many followers in Hebron, rejected the PA mufti’s announcement that the first day of Eid al-Fitr begins on Wednesday. The group’s followers took to the streets of Hebron early Tuesday, urging Palestinians to end their Ramadan fast and celebrate the Islamic festival.
Dozens of Hiz ut-Tahrir members held a morning prayer at Al-Abrar Mosque in Hebron to celebrate the first day of Eid al-Fitr in defiance of the PA mufti’s ruling.
PA policemen who rushed to scene used force to disperse the worshipers and arrested a number of them, witnesses said. They said that some of the worshipers were beaten before they were taken into police custody.
“The Palestinian police committed a crime against dozens of worshipers,” said Ibrahim al-Tamimi, a spokesman for Hizb ut-Tahrir in Hebron. “We didn’t break any ruling and our decision to end the Ramadan fast was legitimate.”Yvette J. Deane contributed to this report.