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Dim Eid for Syrian refugees

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Miles away from home, `Eid Al-Fitr is never the same in Syrian refugee camps in Turkey, where shattered families are trying to hold together during the Islamic holiday.

“We are spending `Eid al-Fitr away from our home for the first time. I hope it will be the last time, yet our hopes are diminishing every day,” one of the refugees, Bekir Sheyho told an Anadolu Agency (AA) on Thursday, July 16.

“We feel good here regardless of our suffering, but I have no news from my father. I do not know if he is alive or dead. If he is dead, I want to know where his grave is.

“We are preparing for `Eid with the opportunities offered us here. I hope that what is happening now around the Islamic world will end soon,” he said.

Syrian refugees have been staying in tent and container refugee camps prepared by the Prime Ministry Disaster and Emergency Management Agency (AFAD) for the last five years.

Though finding safety in Turkish camps, refuges could not enjoy the feast away from the loved ones in their home.

Residing in the Süleyman Shah Accommodation Facility in Şanlıurfa’s Akçakale district, Hussein Abdullah, who lost his five sons and his son-in-law in the war, said that it has been four years since he left Syria.

He said despite all the disadvantages, they will celebrate `Eid al-Fitr in Turkey.

“The ongoing civil war prevents both those in Syria and refugees from celebrating `Eid al-Fitr properly. Turkey provides us with every opportunity, but your homeland is different. We are safe in Turkey, which is as important for us as `Eid,” he said, adding that he wants to see his sons’ graves, although he is afraid of Islamic forces and aircraft.

“I hope I can return home when the war ends and can see my sons’ graves. It will be a real `Eid for me,” he added.

`Eid Al-Fitr is one the two main Islamic religious festivals along with `Eid Al-Adha.

After special prayers to mark the day, festivities and merriment start with visits to the homes of friends and relatives.

And while traditionally everyone wears new clothes for `Eid, children look forward to gifts and traditional `ediya (cash).


`Eid joy could not remove bad memories of war from the minds of many refugees.

Sabiha Ahmet, who has been living in Turkey as a refugee for the last two years, said the upcoming holiday is full of sorrow for them as their country still suffers from the war.

“I can’t describe `Eid as a holiday if I am away from my house, mother, brother and father as well as loved ones. If I am not with them, `Eid means nothing to me,” she said.

Abir Yetim, a refugee who has been living in the Kahramanmaraş camp in Turkey for the last four years, expressed similar feelings of sorrow.

“I wish my mother and father could be here. I think `Eid is a normal day, it does not mean anything to me. They do everything for us here. I am grateful for their support, but as you know there is a saying that if you put a nightingale in a golden cage it asks for its home,” Yetim said.

“Even though I can live here, I want to return to my home,” she continued.

“I left my family and country and came here. It is a deep wound. These tents have become my home.”

Spending years as refugees, some Syrians hold onto the hope of returning home one day.

“We are away from our relatives and friends now. We feel unhappy. I hope we can return when the war ends. I still have hope for it,” Amir Hurabi, who has been living there for the last three years, said.

Hurabi’s wife Raghde said that she misses her relatives in Idlib. “I will go home one day.” ONISLAM

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