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Frankfurt and New York mark start of Ramadan

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THE German city of Frankfurt switched on festive lights Sunday to celebrate the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, in what local media said was a nationwide first.

A large sign reading “Happy Ramadan” and a display of lights in the shape of stars, lanterns and crescent moons were formally unveiled in an evening ceremony, illuminating a pedestrianised street in the city centre lined with restaurants and cafes.

Local officials and German media said it was the first time a German city had put up street illuminations for Ramadan.

Mayor Nargess Eskandari-Gruenberg called it a “beautiful gesture” that stood as an example for “the peaceful co-existence of all people in Frankfurt”.

“In times of crises and wars, this lighting is a sign of hope for all people and strengthens cohesion in our diverse urban society,” she said in a press statement earlier this week.

The western city of Frankfurt, Germany’s financial hub with a population of more than 750,000 people, is home to around 100,000 Muslims citizens.

The Ramadan lights reportedly cost the city at least 75,000 euros.

Ramadan street decorations were also on display in the city of Cologne for the first time in its history, Bild newspaper reported, adding that they were financed by private donations rather than public funds.

The Frankfurt branch of the Coordinating Council of Muslims welcomed the street lights as a sign of “appreciation and recognition of the cultural and religious diversity of our international city”.

The idea to hang the lights came from city councillor Omar Shehata, from Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democratic Party. Shehata told the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper he had been inspired by London, which last year lit up for Ramadan for the first time.

Across the pond, dozens of Muslim worshippers gathered in New York’s Times Square last Sunday (10) to mark the start of the holy month, with some displaying Palestinian flags in solidarity with people in Gaza.

They performed Taraweeh, special Ramadan night prayers, against the backdrop of the bright advertising billboards that illuminate the Manhattan landmark.

“It’s good to come here as Muslims. I saw Muslims from everywhere – I was surprised, it’s my first time here. I wanted to come and see the community,” said one of the worshippers, Salman alHanafy, 20, a forklift operator from Cairo who wore a pristine white thobe.

More than 100 faithful gathered for the prayer meeting.

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