Rohingya refugees celebrate holiday amid memories of home

In this Aug. 21, 2018, photo, bridge players, Hiroshi Kaku of Japan, left, and Bani Amin of Bangladesh react during a bridge competition game at the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia. The card game of bridge is being included for the first time in the Asian Games. At least two players are over 80. The main promoter of the sport at the games is 78-year-old Indonesian billionaire Michael Bambang Hartono. He is also playing. One player likened bridge to being the “athletics of the mind.” (AP Photo/Firdia Lisnawati)
A Rohingya refugee puts on a skull cap before entering a mosque for offering Eid al Adha prayers at Kutupalong refugee camp, Bangladesh, Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018. Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees are celebrating Eid al-Adha in sprawling Bangladeshi camps where they have been living amid uncertainty over their future after they fled Myanmar to escape violence and a massive crackdown. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)
Rohingya refugees perform ablution before offering Eid al Adha prayers at Kutupalong refugee camp, Bangladesh, Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018. Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees in sprawling Bangladeshi camps are celebrating Eid al-Adha Wednesday amid festivity and confusion over whether they would ever be able to go back to Myanmar they fled amid violence and a massive crackdown. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)
Children watch as Rohingya refugees prepare a buffalo for sacrifice during Eid al Adha festival at Kutupalong refugee camp, Bangladesh, Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018. Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees are celebrating Eid al-Adha in sprawling Bangladeshi camps where they have been living amid uncertainty over their future after they fled Myanmar to escape violence and a massive crackdown. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)
Slippers line the entrance of a mosque as a Rohingya refugee enters to offer Eid al Adha prayers at the Kutupalong refugee camp, Bangladesh, Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018. Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees in sprawling Bangladeshi camps are celebrating Eid al-Adha Wednesday amid festivity and confusion over whether they would ever be able to go back to Myanmar they fled amid violence and a massive crackdown. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)
Rohingya refugees offer Eid al Adha prayers in a mosque at the Kutupalong refugee camp, Bangladesh, Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018. Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees in sprawling Bangladeshi camps are celebrating Eid al-Adha Wednesday amid festivity and confusion over whether they would ever be able to go back to Myanmar they fled amid violence and a massive crackdown. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)
Rohingya refugees cry as they pray inside a mosque on Eid al Adha at Kutupalong refugee camp, Bangladesh, Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018. Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees are celebrating Eid al-Adha in sprawling Bangladeshi camps where they have been living amid uncertainty over their future after they fled Myanmar to escape violence and a massive crackdown. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)
Children of Rohingya refugees watch from a window as elders pray inside a mosque on Eid al Adha at Kutupalong refugee camp, Bangladesh, Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018. Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees in sprawling Bangladeshi camps are celebrating Eid al-Adha Wednesday amid festivity and confusion over whether they would ever be able to go back to Myanmar they fled amid violence and a massive crackdown. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)
A Rohingya refugee pours water on a sacrificed buffalo during Eid al Adha festival at Kutupalong refugee camp, Bangladesh, Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018. Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees are celebrating Eid al-Adha in sprawling Bangladeshi camps where they have been living amid uncertainty over their future after they fled Myanmar to escape violence and a massive crackdown. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)
Rohingya refugees perform ablution before offering Eid al Adha prayers at Kutupalong refugee camp, Bangladesh, Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018. Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees in sprawling Bangladeshi camps are celebrating Eid al-Adha Wednesday amid festivity and confusion over whether they would ever be able to go back to Myanmar they fled amid violence and a massive crackdown. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)
Rohingya refugees perform ablution before offering Eid al Adha prayers at Kutupalong refugee camp, Bangladesh, Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018. Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees in sprawling Bangladeshi camps are celebrating Eid al-Adha Wednesday amid festivity and confusion over whether they would ever be able to go back to Myanmar they fled amid violence and a massive crackdown. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)
Rohingya refugees prepare a buffalo for sacrifice during Eid al Adha festival at Kutupalong refugee camp, Bangladesh, Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018. Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees in sprawling Bangladeshi camps are celebrating Eid al-Adha Wednesday amid festivity and confusion over whether they would ever be able to go back to Myanmar they fled amid violence and a massive crackdown. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)
Rohingya refugees perform ablution before offering Eid al Adha prayers at Kutupalong refugee camp, Bangladesh, Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018. Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees in sprawling Bangladeshi camps are celebrating Eid al-Adha Wednesday amid festivity and confusion over whether they would ever be able to go back to Myanmar they fled amid violence and a massive crackdown. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)
Rohingya refugees pray inside a mosque on Eid al-Adha at Kutupalong refugee camp, Bangladesh, Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018. Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees are celebrating Eid al-Adha in sprawling Bangladeshi camps where they have been living amid uncertainty over their future after they fled Myanmar to escape violence and a massive crackdown. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)
A Rohingya refugee cries as he prays with others inside a mosque on Eid al-Adha at Kutupalong refugee camp, Bangladesh, Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018. Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees are celebrating Eid al-Adha in sprawling Bangladeshi camps where they have been living amid uncertainty over their future after they fled Myanmar to escape violence and a massive crackdown. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)
A Rohingya refugee cries as he prays inside a mosque on Eid al-Adha at Kutupalong refugee camp, Bangladesh, Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018. Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees are celebrating Eid al-Adha in sprawling Bangladeshi camps where they have been living amid uncertainty over their future after they fled Myanmar to escape violence and a massive crackdown. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

KUTUPALONG, Bangladesh — Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees living in sprawling camps in Bangladesh celebrated the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha on Wednesday, praying for better lives and wondering if they'll ever again celebrate at their homes in Myanmar.

The calls to the faithful came early in the camps and people streamed into the makeshift mosques, the children in freshly washed clothes.

The four-day holiday of Eid al-Adha celebrates the Prophet Ibrahim and his willingness to sacrifice his son. Muslims often slaughter sheep, cattle or goats on the holiday, distributing some meat to the poor. But few in the camps could afford such luxuries this year.

The Muslim Rohingyas have faced generations of discrimination in largely Buddhist Myanmar, denied citizenship rights, attacked in pogroms and sometimes not able to practice their faith openly.

"We could not pray during Eid in my village for years, we had to pray secretly," said refugee Nurul Alam. "I have freedom here, but I don't want it here."

"We don't belong here," he continued. "It's good that nobody is coming to kill us, but I want to go back where my parents' graves are located."

More than 700,000 Rohingya poured into Bangladesh last year fleeing a scorched-earth campaign by the Myanmar military and Buddhist mobs after attacks by a Rohingya insurgent group. Thousands of people are believed to have been killed in the crackdown, which many rights activists believe was a calculated attempt to drive Rohingya from the country.

Many in Myanmar see the Rohingya as illegal migrants from Bangladesh, deriding them as "Bengalis." Most have long lived in poverty in Myanmar's Rakhine state, next to Bangladesh.

The events of the past year have made for a poignant Eid al-Adha.

"We are happy, but again we are not happy, said 60-year-old Shamsul Alam as he walked to a mosque for prayers. "I had my land, I had a grocery shop there, I had rice, potatoes to eat there. Here I don't have any problem for food, but I don't have what I need."

"I am nobody here," he said.

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