CAIRO – Millions of Muslims paid respects at ancestral graves, shared festive family meals and visited beaches and amusement parks Thursday to mark the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, but violence and political tension overshadowed holiday joy in hotspots like Egypt, Yemen and Afghanistan.

The three-day Eid al-Fitr holiday, which caps Ramadan, also highlighted the long-running divide between Sunni and Shiite Muslims.

Many Sunnis began celebrating Thursday, while Shiites were to mark the holiday Friday, based on different views about sighting the moon.

In recent months, sectarian tensions have risen between Sunnis and Shiites, with the two sides increasingly lined up on opposite sides of Syria’s civil war.

Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr are a time of increased religious devotion, and some Muslims said they’re particularly distraught over discord among the faithful during the holiday season.

In Egypt, where rival political camps have been facing off since the military ousted President Mohammed Morsi last month, worshipper Medhat Abdel Moneam said he doesn’t like to see Muslims quarreling.

Abdel Moneam was among hundreds of Morsi opponents performing prayers in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.

“I am very sad about what is going on in Egypt,” he said of the intensifying showdown between Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood and interim rulers backed by the military. “Today is Eid, and the Egyptian people are divided into two sides, two different thoughts, and it’s a shame because both sides are Muslims.”

Morsi supporters, camped out at two other sites in Cairo, said they will not give up until Morsi is reinstated. “Whoever thought that the revolution would come to an end once Ramadan is over was wrong,” said Mohammed el-Beltagy, a top Muslim Brotherhood figure.For many of the world’s hundreds of millions of Muslims, Eid al-Fitr begins with a cemetery visit to pay respects to ancestors.In other holiday customs, children get haircuts, new clothes and toys, while well-off families slaughter animals and distribute the meat to the poor.


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