Far from home, Rohingya Muslim refugees count their blessings at Eid

Source: Religion News Service

BY Priyadarshini Sen

KOLKATA (RNS) — Last year, Hasan Sharif, a 27-year-old Rohingya, observed Eid al-fitr while hiding from Myanmar soldiers in a stranger’s home. His village had been reduced to ash. “My father was arbitrarily arrested and died in custody,” he said. “Out of 74 members in my family, 34 have been killed. I had to leave or else I would be killed too.”

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Sharif, a refugee from Maungdaw in western Rakhine State, some 500 miles from Kolkata, told his story as he put the final touches on a latticed window he was painting at an Islamic community center in Hardaha, a village on the outskirts of Kolkata.

This year, Sharif celebrated Eid — the holiday marking the end of Islam’s holy month of Ramadan — in Hardaha’s Rohingya settlement. The camp is ramshackle at best, but its lights burn brightly and the 50 or so refugees here enjoy unaccustomed safety. “I’ve finally reached Allah’s abode. Eid for me is finding a place I can call home,” said Sharif, who fled Myanmar last July, crossing into Bangladesh before heading west to India.

Nearly 17,500 Rohingya refugees and asylum seekers are registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in India. Most have been held in large camps near Delhi and Hyderabad, to the south. But more than 100, including Sharif, appeared in the area around Hardaha in Bengal early this year.

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