Calls to pray and keep coronavirus away
Baghdad, a city of nearly ten million residents, is running on an unusual rhythm this Ramadan since Iraq imposed an overnight curfew to curb the spreading coronavirus.A few hours before dawn, the wailing voice of Sayyed Mozahem rings out across a small neighbourhood in old Baghdad, amplified by his portable microphone.
Mozahem is the neighbourhood “musaharati”, responsible during Ramadan for reminding Muslims to have their final meal before a new day of fasting begins with the sunrise.”Fasters, wake up,” he chants, marching through the streets to the beat of his traditional drum as his older brother and father did before him.
But his refrains have a special twist: “May Ramadan keep the coronavirus away,” and “God, spare Iraq from COVID-19”.Iraqis are adapting their Ramadan routines to fit a curfew from 5 pm until 5 am — the hours Baghdad usually comes alive with huge fast-breaking feasts, late-night runs for sweets and midnight mosque visits.
Instead, Iraqis are rushing through checkpoints before the lockdown starts, praying alone at home and baking traditional sweets usually bought in stores.A sombre and isolating mood has settled over the capital, where the response to the novel coronavirus has left its mark from dawn until dusk.