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Egypt: Prison Awaits Those who don't Fast in Ramadan

Fasting in the holy month of Ramadan is the 4th pillar of Islam where Muslims are expected to refrain from eating and drinking from dawn to sunset as an exercise of self-discipline and penance that has a deeper spiritual level. Some Muslims do not fast … prison time and fines await those who eat in public.

For the first time in Egypt, the Ministry of Interior arrests Muslims who eat and drink in public during Ramadan. Hassan El Helali wrote a post titled:

حملة أمنية غير دستورية تنتهك الحريات العامة للمواطنين وتوقف المجاهرين بالإفطار في رمضان لأول مرة بمصر
An unconstitutional raid on the civil rights of citizens arrests those who are not fasting in public for the first time in Egypt.

He goes on listing the arrests:

في أسوان ألقت الشرطة المصرية القبض على ١٥٥ مصرياً وأودعتهم السجن وحررت لهم محاضر جنحة” الجهر بالافطار في نهار رمضان. وفي الغردقة (المدينه السياحية!!) أصدر محافظ البحر الأحمر قراراً بإغلاق المقاهي والمطاعم في نهار رمضان، كما ألقت الشرطة المصرية القبض على العديد من المصريين خلال إفطارهم في نهار رمضان. وألقت كذلك مباحث طلخا بمحافظة الدقهلية بدلتا مصر القبض على سبعة شباب يجاهرون بالافطار في نهار رمضان ويدخنون السجائر في الشارع العام، وحرّر لهم رئيس مباحث طلخا محضراً بالواقعة وتم عرضهم على النيابة التي أمرت بالافراج عنهم بكفالة ٥٠٠ جنيه.
In Aswan, police forces have arrested 155 Egyptians for committing a felony. In Hurghada (a tourist destination) the governor of the Red Sea issued a decree mandating shutting down all restaurants and coffee shops in the morning during Ramadan. Several Egyptians have also been taken into custody. In Dakahlia, seven young men were arrested for smoking in public and they were released after a 500 L.E. bail.

El Helali quotes Gamal Eid , the General Manager of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI), saying:

إجراءات القبض على المواطنين بتهمة “الإفطار” لا يوجد ما تستند إليه قانوناً”، وأضاف “يحق لأي مواطن أن يفطر أو يصوم رمضان، ولا يحق لأحد أن يفرض ذلك عليه”.
There is nothing in the Egyptian law or the constitution to support the arrests; any citizen has the right to fast or not to fast as he pleases and no one has the power to coerce him into fasting.

Khawater posted opposing reactions:

On the Christian front:

لا يوجد مثل هذه التهمة في القانون الا في القوانين السعودية والباكستانية الطالبانية”.وأكد حنا أن “مثل هذه الحملة تثير الفتنة في مصر، فقد توقف الشرطة مسيحياً في الطريق العام وهو يأكل أو يشرب، وقد تلقي القبض على مريض له رخصة الافطار، فهل يهان هذا المواطن ويسجن لحين إثبات براءته”.وأوضح “نحن نخشى أن تقوم الشرطة المصرية بتوقيف من ترتدي البنطال الضيق أو من تضع مساحيق الزينة على وجهها”.وتساءل حنا ” ما الذي يعنيه الجهر بالافطار، لقد وصل الامر الى اقتحام الشرطة المصرية للمقاهي والقبض على من بداخلها، علماً بأن من يجلس في مثل هذه المقاهي يجلس مختبئاً ولا يجاهر بالافطار، فالمعنى مطاطي وحسب أهواء الشرطة”.
There is no such offence in the Egyptian law as opposed to Saudi and Pakistani laws. Lawyer Magdy Hanna said that police officers might mistakenly arrest a Christian eating or drinking in public. They could arrest a Muslim who is sick and is exempted from fasting. Should this citizen be humiliated on the grounds of his guilt until proven innocent? We are worried that the arrests will include women who are wearing pants or make-up! Hanna asked for a clear definition of “not fasting in public” for those who were arrested were sitting inside a coffee shop not in a public street … the lack of clarity leaves it to each officer to decide who's doing what.

The Salafi Sunni front says:

من جانب آخر لقيت هذه الحملة ارتياحاً بين السلفيين في مصر، على اعتبار أنها خطوة جيدة لتطبيق الشريعة في مصر.وقال الداعية الاسلامي عادل السيد نائب رئيس جماعة أنصار السنة السلفية بمصر لـ”العربية.نت”: نعم الصوم هو عبادة بين العبد وربه، يجزى بالثواب إن صام وبالعقاب إن أفطر دون عذر، لكن هذا لا يمنع أن المجاهرة بالافطار لا تجوز شرعاً وما فعلته الشرطة المصرية شيء تحمد عليه، وهو من باب الامر بالمعروف والنهي عن المنكر”.وأضاف الشيخ عادل السيد “إن الانسان لو شرب الخمر في بيته ولا يراه أحد لا أستطيع أن أعاقبه، أما إن جهر بها في الطريق العام فيحق لي أن أنفذ فيه العقوبة بواسطة ولي الامر، وهو هنا في مصر الشرطة، والتي نصّ عليها الشرع والقانون لانه أخلّ بالنظام العام وجاهر بالمعصية ولم يعتبر لحرمات الله، واستهان بالشرع الحنيف، وهذا ينطبق على المفطرين في نهار رمضان، وإن كان المفطر مريضاً أو مسافراً فلا يجوز له ان يجاهر بالافطار”.وأكد “أن ما فعلته الشرطة المصرية يطابق القانون المصري، فهناك نص يعاقب على ذلك في قانون العقوبات بالغرامة المالية تحت بند “مخالفة الأخلاق والآداب العامة، وهو ما يعاقب عليه القانون”.
The salafis hailed the arrests as a step forward towards implementing Shari'a laws in Egypt. Sheikh Adel El Sayed, deputy Ansar Al Sunna Salafi Organization in Egypt, said that it is true that fasting is between God and the worshiper and God will reward or punish those who fast or choose not to fast. But in the meantime, flaunting sins publicly is against Shari'a and the police initiative falls under the category of “The Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice”.  If a man drinks at home, I cannot arrest him but if he drinks in public, I am fully entitled to pursue him in the name of the law – there is a clear clause in the Egyptian law against violating ethics and morals.

Hide and Seek commented on the arrests saying:

خطوة في طريق شرطة الأمر بالمعروف و النهي عن المنكر
شعار هذه الحملة هو : سندخلك الجنة … بمزاجك أو غصباً عن دين أمك
الخطوة القادمة : حملات للقبض على الفاطرين في منازلهم و مداهمة ( أوكار الفطور ) للتخلص من المجرمين
في المستقبل : سترسل وزارة الداخلية بعثات من خيرة ضباطها إلى أفغانستان للحصول على تدريبات عملية من هناك لأحدث سُبل مكافحة الإفطار
تنظيم إحتفالية كًبرى بمناسبة القضاء على ( الحرية الشخصية ) بفضل الله أولاً و أخيراً ثم مجهودات السيد الرئيس و السيد وزير الداخلية
——
بأية تهمة تم القبض على المجاهرين بالإفطار ؟؟؟
ثم أفرض أني مش عايز أصوم .. انت مال أهلك .. لي رب يبقى يحاسبني
أزاي الضباط اللي عملوا الحملة دي و اللي أمر بقيامها ما يتحاكموش و يتعزلوا من مناصبهم
يعني أيه تخليني أصوم بالعافية ؟؟؟ هو أنت لمؤخذة يعني .. فاكر نفسك ربنا و لا أيه ؟
A step closer towards having an Egyptian Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice Police.
The Slogan of this campaign should be: By Hook or By Crook you are going to Heaven. Next Step: Homes will be raided and invaded in search of the infidels.
In the future, police forces will be sent to Afghanistan to receive “home busting” training.
A huge event will be organized in celebration of the elimination of personal freedom. What felony did those people commit?
Assume that I do not want to fast … it is none of your business.
This is between me and God.
The officers who were involved in the campaigns should be tried and asked to step down.
Who are are you to force me to fast? Do you like playing God?

Bikya Masr said that the Egyptian government denied the arrests:

In an exclusive statement to Egyptian newspaper al-Youm al-Saba’a, Assistant Interior Minister General Nagi al-Hasi denied the reports, which were reported by Bikya and the Egyptian newspaper.

He said that police crackdowns in Aswan were not part of any “government campaign” to arrest those who publicly broke the fast. He argued that people had “mixed things and were confused over the matter, since the security measures taken are to follow-up on field activities of all police departments to combat crime in general and drugs.”

Hasi added that police arrested those who were acting “suspicious” to police. 

  • Mohamed

    If you are in Rome do as the Romans do!!!

    there is no excuse for offending the majority of moslims who fast! its your right to braek your fast in your own privacy!!!

    • Mostapha

      I have the rights to fast or not ppl!!!!!
      this is a private matter between ME and GOD thats IT!!! … and when im fasting and i see some1 in the street is eating…IM NOT offended @ all!!!!
      but when im not fasting and the police capture meee!!!!!!!… Read More
      DAH IEB2A KEMET EL TA7′ALOF !!!!

  • neihad

    walahy maby7saaaaaal
    it doesn’t happen

    i am in the street now and people around me are eating and the police men are around and no on harass them

    di 7waraaaaaaaaaaaaaat fe 7warat we ymkn fe aswan wmsh tol el wa2t !!!!

  • Mostapha

    I have the rights to fast or not ppl!!!!!
    this is a private matter between ME and GOD thats IT!!! … and when im fasting and i see some1 in the street is eating…IM NOT offended @ all!!!!
    but when im not fasting and the police capture meee!!!!!!!… Read More
    DAH IEB2A KEMET EL TA7′ALOF !!!!

  • http://meedan.net George

    Great post – really this is a fascinating and challenging issue to tackle, and this is a really valuable contribution.

    We have had some discussion of this on Meedan, including translations of articles and view points between Arabic and English. We’d be delighted if you’d take a look:

    http://beta.meedan.net/index.php?page=events&post_id=282277

  • http://sarahalaoui.blogspot.com Sarah

    Really people? Really? Arresting people because they’re not fasting…we’ve reached a new level. Instead of expending their time on progressing their country in aspects such as education or safety for example, they’re coercing people to practice religion?? Do you not have anything better to do than stroll the streets and patronize people during this holy month? What about menstruating girls? How do they prove their innocence?? This is a new extreme.

    “Islam is the best, but we Muslims are not the best. The West is neither corrupted nor degenerate. It is strong, well-educated, and organized. Their schools are better than ours. Their cities are cleaner than ours. The level of respect for human rights in the West is higher, and the care for the poor and less capable is better organized. Westerners are usually responsible and accurate in their words. Instead of hating the West, let us proclaim cooperation instead of confrontation.”
    –Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic

    Events like these are just perpetuating stereotypes and driving people even further away from our lovely religion. Mashallah.

  • Shahira

    Mostapha if its a private matter between you and God you do not have to flaunt it to our face and shove it too!! Fasting is a must and sadly not a lot of people to my surprise are following, BUT make it between you and your GOD!!

    • http://deleted J. Kactuz

      One more evidence of creeping radicalism….

      Too bad that that so many Muslims see fasting for a few hours as a matter of morality, and must use force to reinforce their own sense of “sacredness” even when it is obvious that food and drink have little to do with morals.

      Instead of food, why not give up hate, violence and discrimination between sunrise and sunset? Just an idea, so don’t take it seriously.

      Oh yes, didn’t someone say that it is not what goes into a body that defiles it, but what comes out of the mouth?

      Kactuz

  • Riham

    that’s really not acceptable at all, fasting or not is a private thing between each and every one and god , what the hell is happeneing ?,, everything wrong is happeneing under cover and we are coming now to judge people on whether they are fasting or not !!!!!!!

  • Riham

    we are not here to judge, this is not our job..!!, and sending such wrong picture about islam is not right at all..
    better go and bust those working in hash industries with no threats at alll

  • AshleyC

    In general, how do you all feel about the mainstream news coverage surrounding Ramadan this year especially in respect to the economy? I hadn’t heard anything about this until now, and I’m incredibly shocked by it. I agree with most of you here, people should not be arrested for this. Religion is personal, and should not be enforced by the state.
    http://www.newsy.com/videos/ramadan_around_the_world

  • http://jilliancyork.com Jillian C. York

    This happens in Morocco every year to make an example out of a few unlucky people.

    I think it’s absurd; first of all, isn’t fasting supposed to be a challenge? Second, is there any consideration for the fact that the person not fasting might be ill or otherwise unable? Regardless, the lack of freedom is appalling.

    • Abdu

      Jillian,
      you are right, no one should be forced to fast and who ever not fasting has their own reason for doing it. however, the question is not about fasting more than it is for the respect of the holly month.

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