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Women bakers prepare for first Ramadan in 'free Libya'

LIBYA: Civil war or not, every year the holy Muslim month of Ramadan must be respected and in Libya's rebel stronghold of Benghazi women bakers are working overtime to meet demand.

Dozens of women knead dough into shape, making sweets and salty pies, at the iconic Al-Harabi bakery, undaunted by the unrelenting war, sweltering temperatures, power-cuts and tight budgets.

Ramadan, when devout Muslims fast from dawn to dusk, is due to begin on August 1.

Throughout the month, families get together to break the fast with lavish meals that must include olive and cheese pies and special Ramadan sweets.

The revolution launched in February to unseat Libyan strongman Moamer Kadhafi has turned life in Libya upside down.

Men, the traditional breadwinners, left for the front line or lost their jobs, universities and schools closed, and businesses and homes were hit by daily power cuts. As a result women have left their homes to look for jobs, with many finding a job al Al-Harabi. "We had no money but I had free time so I started working here," said Iman al-Jihani, 22, a medicine student who also volunteers two nights per week in the surgery department of Benghazi's Al-Jalaa hospital. AFP

 

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