Bangladesh prays for peace ahead of election
Bangladesh's leaders appealed Thursday for a friendly and peaceful society as their country, which has suffered political violence, marked the Eid al-Fitr holiday and prepared for national elections in December, reported dpa.
"I hope the great lesson of Eid al-Fitr will prompt our national development and advancement," President Iajuddin Ahmed said in a message for the Muslim festival, which marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.
He and the head of Bangladesh's military-backed government, Fakhruddin Ahmed, attended the country's main gathering for the holiday at the National Eidgah prayer grounds in the capital, Dhaka.
Talking to the media after the prayers, Fakhruddin Ahmed, who earlier announced December 18 as the election day, reiterated his government's pledge to hold a peaceful and credible election on time.
"Our preparation is about to end, and we hope to finish the rest of the tasks on time," he said.
The vote is to return Bangladesh to democracy after emergency rule was imposed in January 2007 and a government appointed in the wake of political violence.
Political leaders also issued Eid messages, calling on party members to unite to establish a democratic society.
Millions of people in Muslim-dominated Bangladesh thronged to numerous Eid congregations across the country to pray and seek divine blessings for peace and prosperity in their national and personal lives.
To mark the festival, the government announced three days of public holidays starting Wednesday, provided extra transport services as millions travelled home for the holiday, and served special meals in prisons, hospitals and orphanages.
Major buildings were illuminated while thoroughfares were decorated with flags, including the national flag, to celebrate one of the two major religious festival for Muslims.
Arches were erected and bedecked with "Happy Eid al-Fitr" messages.
Security was also enhanced across the country for the holiday.