August 14, 2010

France Muslims celebrate Ramadan with homeland nostalgia

Muslims in France celebrate Ramadan with homeland nostalgia

by Sonia Ounissi

PARIS, Aug. 11 (Xinhua) -- In the northern suburb of Aubervillier (north Paris) on Wednesday, a crowd mainly of Arab people are queuing in a food store displaying various and nice decorated oriental products, colored spices and delicious sweeties coming from the Southern Mediterranean rim.

Asma, a western stylish Tunisian woman was amid the clients waiting her turn to pay purchases of dates, Chorba frik, a Tunisian special soup, and malsouka, a thin pastry sheets, often absent in Muslims daily meals but have the lion's share of their tables during the holy month of Ramadan.

The 31-mother of a little girl is preparing for the Islam's holiest month by preserving the habits of her homeland despite distance.

"Every year, I used to buy the ingredients necessary to garnish and embellish traditional Ramadan dishes as we are used to do in my native country in a way to abate the feeling of loneliness and nostalgia of the joyful Ramadan atmosphere," Asma told Xinhua.

"It's true we live here far away from our roots but we kept the specificities of our Arabic and Islamic identity and seeing such crowds during Ramadan makes me happy and feel that I'm in my homeland with my family," she added.

Asma is among the five million Muslims living in France, Europe 's Largest Islamic community, who tried to swap the western-style daytime for traditional and holy atmosphere during Paris nightlife.

France's Muslims start fasting on Wednesday like muslims worldwide. They abstain from food, drink and sex from sunrise to sunset during Ramadan, one of the main pillars of Islamic religion.

According to Ifop study published in 2009, 70 percent of Muslims in France said they are fasting during Ramadan against 60 percent two decades ago.

"As every year, we welcome Ramadan with great happiness as this month is beneficial for our health and our spirits. We are going to fast without problems but the single bad point is that we are far from our families, far from our countries where Ramadan has a specific festive atmosphere," said Khalid.

The Moroccan plumber planned to spend Ramadan in his native country but less revenue and high travel costs sent a chill to his plan.

"But, I tried to create such climate in my home with my wife and friends otherwise I'll feel a little be frustrated," he added.

Main French chains of distribution focused more on providing halal meat respecting the ritual slaughter of animals, non alcohol- based foods and typical Arab meals ingredients to satisfy the needs of a promising slice of consumers representing a turnover of 4.5 billion euro, according to Ifop.

"It makes me happy to see such goods which I never thought to find them here. In fact I feel Ramadan atmosphere and the joyful tradition to prepare for this holy month just in the supermarkets. Once, we quit them, we miss this feeling," said Narjes, a 32-year- old order picker.

Editor: yan