Jerusalem’s Ramadan cannon

The World

This man is a Palestinian actor but he’s most famous for firing the Ramadan cannon. Palestinians in Jerusalem know him as the cannon guy. Before dawn and then again at dusk he goes to a tiny cemetery behind an East Jerusalem street. That’s where the Ramadan cannon sits. It’s an old British cannon and the blasts can be heard everywhere on the eastern side of the city. The actor says he’s proud to do the job, even though he doesn’t get paid. It’s a Jerusalem tradition and a family one as well�his father and grandfather did it, and his sons will do it after him. His oldest son who is 23 is at the cemetery with his father tonight. Since the start of the Second Intifadah, Israel has been worried about any gunpowder in the hands of Palestinians and it’s insisted the family uses fireworks instead. It also posts Israeli security guards in the cemetery. The actor says he can live with the restrictions, because what concerns him most is that the cannon is sounded. The son shows me another Ramadan tradition on the next night: providing a meal for the poor. Religious volunteers are distributing food for hundreds of hungry people, and the son says he’s moved to be here.

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