Food, Family, No Sleep: Baghdad A New City During Ramadan, Thanks to End of Curfew
For the first time in years locals in Iraq's capital city are getting to enjoy Ramadan without having to worry about a curfew – and it seems to have made a great difference to the atmosphere in Baghdad.
Ramadan is a month long commemoration of when the holy book, the Koran, was revealed to Mohammed, during which the religious abstain from eating, drinking and other activities like sex, during the day; they then break their daily fast with friends, family and neighbours at night.
Before this year Baghdad's celebrations during Ramadan were always curtailed by the city's nightly curfew – imposed between midnight and 5am, the curfew was a security measure to inhibit sectarian-fuelled violence after 2003. However in February this year the new Iraqi government, headed by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, decided to lift the curfew.
There was much celebration at the time. And now that change is also having an impact on how Baghdad locals celebrate Ramadan this year.
The end of the curfew has allowed restaurants to open longer hours. They are now able to prepare what is known as Suhoor, the meal that you get to eat pre-dawn to keep you going during your day of fasting, for customers. Often this takes the form of a buffet.
In Jadriya, one of Baghdad's most affluent neighbourhoods boasting upmarket restaurants and cafes, families spend all night eating and drinking. They are able to return home when they wish and nobody can bother them or ruin the festive mood as they go, they say.
In Karrada, another affluent neighbourhood nearby, the Ridha Ulwan cafe, a favourite spot for writers, journalists, artists and other creative types, is open until dawn. They usually close at around midnight but have changed their hours this month – during the night they hold special cultural events, like poetry readings.