Source Pravda.Ru

Muslims around the world mark the beginning of the holy month

Friday prayers marked the start of &to=http://english.pravda.ru/usa/2001/11/21/21510.html' target=_blank>Ramadan in the Middle East as millions of Muslims around the world began observance of the holy month of fasting and prayer.

Tens of thousands of &to=http://english.pravda.ru/mailbox/22/98/395/14172_Muslims.html' target=_blank>Muslims turned out at the Haram al-Sharif complex, the Noble Sanctuary, in Jerusalem's Old City for prayers after the Israeli government lifted restrictions on the number of people allowed to attend.

There were no reports of violence in the West Bank, Gaza or Israel amid the dozens of checkpoints and hundreds of soldiers deployed to provide security.

The government had been concerned about the structural integrity of the site. As many as 150,000 to 200,000 worshippers were expected, but those high numbers did not materialize.

Ramadan began officially Thursday evening in some parts of the world. The start of the month is based on a combination of physical sightings of the moon and astronomical calculations. Most regions began the fast Friday, while Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh have announced the fast to begin Saturday, as have isolated Islamic centers in North America and Europe, informs CNN.

According to Xinhua, the Israeli authorities had warned they might clamp restrictions for Friday's prayers at Jerusalem's most sensitive shrine after experts said the underground chambers called Solomon's Stables were at risk of collapse.

Karadi said the decision to lift the restrictions came after inspection of the Temple Mount, adding that sufficient measures were taken to build scaffoldings and cordons off the dangerous areas.