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Muslims in Southeast Asia mark end of Ramadan

IANS | Jakarta |

Millions of people across Southeast Asia on Sunday celebrated the end of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting.

Leaders of Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei joined in the holiday celebrations that began with a morning ceremony, reports Efe news.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo, accompanied by First Lady Iriana, took part in the Eid-ul-Fitr prayers at the Istiqlal Mosque, the largest in Southeast Asia.

Widodo then left for the presidential palace to continue the tradition of opening its doors to the public from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Eighty-seven per cent of the 260 million people in the Indonesian archipelago practice Islam, making them the world's largest Muslim community.

In Malaysia, where this group accounts for about 60 per cent of the nearly 30 million inhabitants, Sultan Muhammad V officiated before a gathering of 17,000 at the Federal Territory Mosque.

Prime Minister Najib Razak and other political and religious heads were also seen at this mosque, inaugurated in the year 2000.

In Brunei, the premier's official residence and other symbolic buildings were opened to the public for several hours during the day.

In the mainly-Catholic Philippines, where Muslims represent close to 11 per cent of the 100 million inhabitants, the army declared an eight-hour ceasefire in the city of Marawi, currently held by Islamic State-linked militants.

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, and is a time for fasting, family and discipline, when believers abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and sex from dawn until sunset.

The period is considered holy as it is believed to have been the time when the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Mohammad.