BAGHDAD, Dec. 8 (Xinhua) -- Thousands of Iraqi Muslims filled mosques across the country at dawn Monday to start celebrating the four-day Eid al-Adha festival or feast of sacrifice, expressing strong desire for better security and solid economy.
The festival annually falls on the 10th day of the month of Dhul Hijja of the lunar Islamic Calendar, which is a religious ritual celebrated by Muslims worldwide in commemoration of the willingness of Prophet Ibrahim to sacrifice his son as an act of obedience to mighty God.
In one of mixed neighborhoods in southwestern Baghdad, about 500 Sunni worshippers at sunrise converged on the al-Rahman mosquein the Baya'a neighborhood.
They prayed Eid al-Adha morning prayers together as Iraqi police stood guarding the mosque in which its Imam Tawfeeq al-Janabi delivered a speech, calling on all Iraqis to "be unified byloving and helping each other."
"We are so happy that we can gather again to perform prayers in our neighborhood as we were not able to do so in the past," 47-year-old Abu Umar told Xinhua after performing Eid al-Adha morning prayers in the neighborhood.
Baya'a was the scene of fierce clashes which erupted in February and ended in July 2007 between Sunni fighters and Shiite militia, which forced many Sunni families of the sectarian mixed neighborhood to leave their homes.
"It was terrible months last year when we were displaced from our houses. I still remembered that my family and I spent the worse period of our lives during the clashes and displacement. At that time our neighborhood was dark (no electricity) and scared just like a ghost city in which we were suffering from fear and hunger," Abu Umar said.
"However, I am glad that I came back to my own house and there will be no sectarian violence any more," he said, adding "we pray to God that we (Iraqis) will keep living peacefully without differences between Sunnis and Shiites in such a nice atmosphere with solid security all over the country."
He expressed his hope that the Iraqis will never hear again the sound of explosions.