Ramadan: Danger of increased intolerance?

July 11, 2013 by  
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Riyadh tells foreign workers to “respect Ramadan or be expelled”

In timidly reforming Saudi Arabia, the Interior Ministry imposes strict observance of fasting on non-Muslims. Food, water, cigarettes and chewing gum are banned from public areas from dawn to dusk. “Non-Muslim residents” must respect “the holiness of Ramadan and the feelings of Muslims,” said an interior ministry statement, or be expelled.

Danger of RamadanSaudi Arabia, July 10, 2013: Anyone, Muslims and non-Muslims, caught  eating, drinking, smoking or chewing gum in daylight hours during Ramadan could be imprisoned, whipped and expelled from the kingdom, Saudi Arabia’s Interior Ministry said in a statement issued on the eve of the holy month, which begins today in Saudi Arabia.

According to Islamic tradition, the month of Ramadan marks Allah’s revelation to Muhammad of the first verses of the Qur’an. Every person above puberty and in good health has to fast from dawn to dusk. Compliance with these rules is one of the five pillars of Islam, a basic duty for every Muslim. Ramadan, the month in prayer, is also associated with peace initiatives and charity.

The measure, adopted by the Interior Minister and confirmed by sources in the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (the muttawa or religious police), primarily affects 8 million foreign workers, mostly Asians, who are living at present in the country.

Foreigners caught breaking the fast in public “will be subject to deterrent measures that include terminating their employment contracts and expelling them from the kingdom,” the ministry said. “Companies, corporations and individuals are required to inform their employees” of the rules.

In Saudi Arabia, the heartland of Sunni Islam, Sharia is strictly enforced. After he came to the throne in 2005, King Abdullah instituted a timid programme of modernisation, but has met with a tough conservative religious establishment that still exercises wide powers and enjoys strong support in the population.

For the start of Ramadan, more than 30,000 men will be deployed around the Grand Mosque in Makkah “to ensure the safety and security of the guests of God

The Interior Ministry has also instructed the muttawa to intensify checks on the streets.

– asianews

Ramadan in Jakarta: extremists announce a raid “against alcohol and pornography”

The Islamic Defense Front (FPI) announces attacks on “sinful” bars and locales during Islam’s holy month. The police sequester and send in smoke drinks and DVDs, in an atmosphere of increasing intolerance. IDF Leader: “Our activists on the streets of the capital, will ensure compliance with the rules.” High alert among religious minorities and non-Orthodox Muslims.

Ramadan in JakartaIndonesia, July 10, 2013: Indonesian Muslims have started celebrations for the holy month of Ramadan, a month of fasting and prayer for Islam. The extremist fringe of Islam, strong off the Supreme Court’s decision in recent days that has blocked the sale of alcoholic beverages, has already announced raids and attacks on bars and “sinful” public places; meanwhile, the police have seized large quantities of alcohol and pornographic material, in a climate of growing intolerance.

The Islamic holy month is used as a pretext by extremists in Indonesia to take aim at nightclubs, bars and shops selling alcohol, whose consumption is forbidden under sharia law. This year the situation may be even worse, following the series of attacks on religious minorities and Muslims who are not in line with orthodoxy.

Habib Idrus Algadri, head of the FPI in the Depok district, on Jakarta’s outskirts, promised “decisive actions against the circulation of alcohol, prostitution and naked dancing”. Already a few days ago, on the eve of Ramadan, Front leaders made several punitive missions against those who violated the rules. And in the coming days, adds the fundamentalist leader, at least 50 members will be circulating at night in the most critical points of the capital, to ensure compliance with the directives. “We will not hesitate”, he concluded, “to carry out our raid, if we see that the police and the authorities are not able to do their job”.

Last weekend the police in Jakarta have destroyed (pictured) thousands of bottles of alcohol manufactured and sold to the public without licensing, as well as pornographic and pirated DVDs.

Indonesia is the largest Muslim nation in the world and, while ensuring among the constitutional principles basic personal liberties (including that of worship), it is becoming increasingly the scene of violence and abuses against minorities, be they Christians, ahmadi Muslim or of other faiths. In Aceh province – unique in the archipelago – Islamic law rules and in many other areas the influence of the Muslim religion is becoming more radical and extreme in the lives of citizens. Among the various prohibitions, especially with regard to customs, that which requires women to sit astride the motorcycle or to wear jeans or miniskirts. The compliance is ensured by the presence on the streets of “moral police”, a special body that punishes violations.

– asianews

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