KUTUPALONG, BANGLADESH— Living in sprawling camps in Bangladesh, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees marked a somber `Eid Al-Adha on Wednesday, praying for better lives and a return to their homes.
“We could not pray during `Eid in my village for years, we had to pray secretly,” said refugee Nurul Alam, The Star reported.
“I have freedom here, but I don’t want it here.”
`Eid Al-Adha, or “Feast of Sacrifice”, marks the end of the Hajj season and is one of the two most important Islamic celebrations, together with `Eid Al-Fitr.
A financially-able Muslim sacrifices a single sheep or goat or shares with six others in sacrificing a camel or cow as an act of worship during the four-day `Eid Al-Adha celebrations.
The ritual commemorates Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ismail to Allah as an act of obedience and submission.
The Rohingya minority is denied citizenship in largly Buddhist Burma, where they’ve faced persecution for decades.
Over the past decades, the Rohingya Muslims have faced discrimination in Burma, denied citizenship rights, attacked in pogroms and sometimes not able to practice their faith openly.
More than 700,000 Rohingya poured into Bangladesh last year fleeing a scorched-earth campaign by the Burmese military and Buddhist mobs after attacks by a Rohingya insurgent group.
Thousands of people are believed to have been killed in the crackdown, which many rights activists believe was a calculated attempt to drive Rohingya from the country.
“We don’t belong here,” he continued.
“It’s good that nobody is coming to kill us, but I want to go back to where my parents’ graves are located.”
Thousands of miles away from their homes, `Eid joy seems a far-fetched dream.
“We are happy, but again we are not happy,” said 60-year-old Shamsul Alam as he walked to a mosque for prayers.
“I had my land, I had a grocery shop there, I had rice, potatoes to eat there. Here I don’t have any problem with food, but I don’t have what I need.”
“I am nobody here,” he said.