Muslim Filipinos celebrate Eid al-Fitr

Posted at 08/19/2012 2:04 PM | Updated as of 08/20/2012 8:14 AM
Muslim women attend a mass morning prayer to celebrate Eid al-Fitr at Manila's Luneta Park on August 19, 2012. REUTERS/Cheryl Ravelo

MANILA, Philippines -- Thousands of Filipino Muslims celebrated Eid al-Fitr with morning prayers in Manila's Luneta Park on Sunday, marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

After the morning prayers, the Muslims held a picnic and shared their food with passersby as a sign of friendship and thanksgiving to the end of the month-long fast.

"Every Muslim all over the world wish for peace, especially the Muslims in our country; especially in Mindanao where people in Mindanao are tired from fleeing from their place," said Alim Naguib Tahir, an Imam presiding the prayer.

Peaceful coexistence between Christians and Muslims has been marred by a decades-old war in Mindanao between Islamic separatist groups and the Philippines government.

The rebel group, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, has been negotiating with the Philippines government to end more than four decades of conflict that has killed 120,000 people, displaced 2 million and hobbled growth in the poor but resource-rich Muslim areas of the south.

Islam is the second most popular religion in the predominantly Catholic Philippines, with over five percent of the 94 million population practicing the Muslim faith.

The Philippine government has declared Monday, August 20, a holiday in respect of the Muslim festivity.