JOHANNESBURG - The Muslim holy month of Ramadaan, which kicked off yesterday, is usually met with joy by Muslims around the world.
But in many parts of the globe the mood is downbeat this year for observers of the sacred time.
In Egypt, many say they can't properly embrace the holy month, amid the bloodshed that's followed the military overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi.
Seasonal stalls selling Ramadaan lanterns are scarcer than usual this year.
Many of Cairo's coffee shops are also closed. So too are those offering honey and nut pastries for the evening meal that ends each day of fasting.
"This year and the year before and the year before it are all the same. We do not feel it's Ramadaan for three years now. There is no joy, there is no Ramadaan like the old days," said Cairo resident Yasmine Abdel Rahman.
In other parts of the world Ramadaan also doesn't represent a time of feasts, family and peaceful reflection.
In countries like Syria, Lebanon and Afghanistan violence has been a constant backdrop in the lead-up to the holy month.
And in Turkey the faithful have found themselves staring down police armed with tear gas and water canons during a weeks-long sit-in to protest the development of a park in the capital Istanbul.
The timing of Ramadaan -- when Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset -- varies in different parts of the world, depending on the sighting of the new moon.
But there's one common theme, as witnessed by the thousands who gathered in Jakarta to pray for peace.
- Additional reporting Sapa