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September 24, 2017

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40,000 foreign workers celebrate Eid al-Fitr

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Taipei Main Station Ticketing Hall was filled with 40,000 foreign workers on Sunday, in celebration of the Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the Islamic religious fasting month of Ramadan.

As most foreign workers in Taiwan hail from the predominately Islamic country of Indonesia, the Muslim festival has been one of the most sizable celebrated by foreign workers in Taiwan. The festival is directly translated as the Feast of Breaking the Fast, allowing Muslim workers to enjoy a celebratory meal with friends and family.

Although various activities were set up for the Muslim workers, like the event at Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall organized by the Taipei City Foreign and Disabled Labor Office that featured Indonesian artist Inul Daratista, up to 40,000 Indonesians filled the ticketing hall of Taipei Main Station.

As the station serves as the center of the entire northern rail line, it is often used as the selected gathering place for Indonesian workers during weekends and festive celebrations. The station has hosed an average of 50,000 to 60,000 foreign workers during Eid al-Fitr in the last two years, with passengers noticing large groups of Indonesian Muslims enjoying meals with their friends while singing songs from their homeland.

Locals Mixed on Gathering

In response to the massive gathering of foreign workers, several local passengers reportedly display their dissatisfaction as a result of the crowd causing an inconvenience. Complaints to the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) of the Muslim gatherings have been frequent in the last two years, with passengers pressuring authorities to not allow such gatherings.

In contrast, many passengers have also said that they welcome and embrace the foreign community no matter their race and religion, as Taiwan is a friendly country that is accepting to all. Some of the passengers were said to have had a positive attitude and went on to suggest those who were upset to be more open-minded and more tolerant toward other cultures.

According to Taipei Main Station's Station Master Chien Hsin-li (簡信立), around 30,000 to 40,000 foreign workers have occupied the station as a venue of celebration. The TRA had previously held two meetings with the Taipei City Government, the Railway Police Bureau and a foreign worker organization whereby the parties agreed on a "friendly approach" consensus.

To accommodate the crowd, the TRA mobilized 50 station executives and volunteers to help with organization. Reportedly, Indonesian announcements were played throughout the day notifying attendees of other events and more open areas, Chien said.

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