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Religious authorities in Egypt and Saudi Arabia have declared that Monday will be the start of the holy month of Ramadan – a period devoted to dawn-to-dusk fasting, prayers and spiritual introspection.

Official statements issued Saturday also said Lebanon and Qatar agreed on the start of the holy month. Ramadan begins around 11 days earlier each year. Its start is calculated based on the sighting of the new moon, which marks the beginning of the Muslim lunar month that varies between 29 or 30 days.

During the month, Muslims are expected to abstain during daylight hours from food, drink, smoking and sex to focus on spirituality. This year, the long and hot summer days are expected to compound the already tough fast. AP

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