In a shocking turn of events, an almost mundane and yet exciting news update about the sighting of the moon of Shawwal, to declare Eid or not, has created mass confusion nationwide in the Muslim community.
Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand (FIANZ), the apex body of the Muslim community in New Zealand, saw its website hacked and released a memo on the site that said “Moon has been sighted and Eid-ul-Fitr will be celebrated on Wednesday, June 5”, which was actually not official nor valid and without the knowledge of the FIANZ members, Ulema board and the officials.
The exact date of Eid ul-Fitr is determined by the first sighting of the new moon. The end of Ramadan is marked on the 29th day if a new moon is sighted, but if not, it extends to the 30th day.
The first Facebook post by FIANZ of the 'fake' news of moon sighting of the moon on FIANZ website (Source: FIANZ Facebook Page)
In this case, this year the Muslim community had observed 29 days of Ramadan until Tuesday, June 4, and were eagerly waiting for the moon to be sighted so they can observe Eid on Wednesday, June 5. This eagerness was due to the reason that the news was afloat in some of the countries such as Saudi Arabia (UAE), UK, Australia and Pakistan among others.
Just around sunset when the FIANZ members, Ulemas and the officials from different mosques across the country scan the sky trying the locate the moon- the FIANZ website was hacked, and a memo released creating mass confusion in the country.
As soon as FIANZ became aware of the malice act of hacking, it immediately informed the community through its Facebook page that “the news memo for Eid on FIANZ page is fake” and instead to follow its Facebook page for authentic and official update of the moon sighting.
The second post by FIANZ on its Facebook page citing to avoid FIANZ website for Eid update (Source: FIANZ Facebook Page)
“We prepared two memos during this time – one said the moon had been sighted and Eid will be observed on Wednesday, June 5, and the other said the moon had not been sighted and Muslims will complete 30th Ramadan as per calendar and Eid will be observed on Thursday, June 6,” Dr Anwar Ghani, spokesperson from FIANZ told The Indian Weekender.
“In the evening, we realised that our website was hacked and the unofficial memo released without FIANZ’s knowledge and the admins were barred from entering the FIANZ website for at least 40 minutes.
“Following this, we released a post on Facebook about the ‘fake news’ on the website and to avoid the website and follow FIANZ Facebook for updates,” Mr Ghani added.
The Facebook post by FIANZ received over 300 comments where people expressed their confusion, scepticism and connect the dots as many social media pages related to the Muslim community had already downloaded the ‘fake memo’ and declared Eid to be celebrated on Wednesday on their respective pages.
The final update by FIANZ on 'not' sighting the moon and declaration of the date of Eid-ul-Fitr
The second post by FIANZ stating the same too received over 100 comments from the people with some people frowning upon the confusion created and questioning the credibility of the information floating on social media.
FIANZ just around 8:45 p.m. announced on its Facebook page that the moon had not been sighted and Eid-ul-Fitr will be celebrated on Thursday, June 6.
NZ Eid Day, the popular page and not-for-profit community group organising the NZ Eid Day at Eden Park too shared the news from the FIANZ website- which further deleted its post and confirmed FIANZ’s final update for Eid celebration on Thursday.
The post by New Zealand Eid Day on Facebook confirming Eid-ul-Fitr
“We have contacted the police and lodged a complaint, and the cybersecurity team of police is looking into it,” Dr Ghani told The Indian Weekender.
Dr Ghani further added that FIANZ would investigate the incident along with the police and release an official statement about the whole saga after Eid to the community.
FIANZ later also released a document that answers all queries and FAQs about the science and process of sighting the moon.
The final word- the moon was not sighted on Tuesday, and therefore Eid will be celebrated across New Zealand on Thursday, June 6.
The FAQ sheet around the science of sighting of the moon released by FIANZ
The FIANZ page currently with the notice of Eid