Many Muslims start Ramadan fast amid turmoil

Bahraini men gather to search the sky over the Persian Gulf for the crescent moon in the western village of Karzakan, Bahrain, on Tuesday, July 9, 2013. The new moon heralds the start of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, a time of fasting, prayer and charitable giving for Muslims worldwide. Bahrain announced Ramadan officially begins Wednesday in the kingdom. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)

Bahraini men gather to search the sky over the Persian Gulf for the crescent moon in the western village of Karzakan, Bahrain, on Tuesday, July 9, 2013. The new moon heralds the start of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, a time of fasting, prayer and charitable giving for Muslims worldwide. Bahrain announced Ramadan officially begins Wednesday in the kingdom. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)

BEIRUT (AP) — Many devout Muslims in the Middle East have started observing the dawn-to-dusk fast for the month of Ramadan even as the region is rocked by Egypt's turmoil and the relentless civil war in Syria.

For most Sunnis and Shiites, Ramadan started on Wednesday while others are expected to begin observing the holy month on Thursday — differences based on various sightings of the new moon.

Nowhere is the hardship for this Ramadan starker than in Syria, where the civil war is now in its third year. The U.N. says at least 93,000 people have been killed since the conflict erupted.

Syria's fragile currency has reached an all-time low while food and fuel prices are soaring. The U.N. says over 4 million Syrians risk going hungry because they can't afford food.
Associated Press
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