Egypt: Why do we arrest those who do not fast?
Date posted: September 11, 2009
For the first time in Egypt, the Ministry of Interior arrests Muslims who eat and drink in public during Ramadan. Activists on Twitter said the arrests are illegal and the Ministry proves they are!
Cairo On A Cone asks:
Meedan: Egypt Ramadan Arrests: Public page from Google Reader showing RSS feed of Shorouk News comments
monaeltahawy So arrests for public breaking of fast in Egypt are true. Sad day for religious freedom in Egypt. What next? Morality police?
Vigorous discussions took place on Mona ElTahawy's facebook page
Mohamed Abdel Salam of Bikya Masr reported the Ministry's side of the story:
Major General Abdul Karim Hamdy, Assistant to the Minister of Interior for Media and Information …. criticized human rights organizations that have condemned the ministry’s campaign, saying “they have to learn modesty and respect for the month. In the past, Egyptian society was very pious [and] I hope that these organizations return to it.”
Karim added that “I ask them to read the law well before criticizing the ministry of interior.”
Ahmed Mekki, the Vice-President of the Court of Cassation said
that the Penal Code criminalizes this action and is punishable under Egyptian law. He said that police, however, have no right to determine the penalty for the crime and must file a record against the individual and refer them tot he prosecution’s office.
If the prosecution finds no reason for the individual to have broken their fast, they are then transferred to the criminal court where a penalty, most likely a fine, is delivered.
The Ministry of Interior has a sense of humor!
It is all reportedly part of an odd campaign launched by the interior ministry in the southern governorate. According to ministry officials, they want to show Egyptians “what life is like for a hard-line country,” such as Saudi Arabia, where penalties for breaking the fast early can result in lashings or imprisonment.
Even the Muslim Brotherhood appears to disagree with the tactics.
“It is horrible what is going on and we cannot stand by and allow this to continue, because we want to live in a free society,” said Ahmed, a member of the powerful Muslim Brotherhood. “Religion is not compulsory and this should be maintained.”
Human Rights activists are still refuting this argument.
Gamal Eid, the Director of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI)
criticized the so-called campaign, stressing that it is illegal and described the latest move by the ministry as “a maneuver from the government to appease Islamists, so that it would look like a supporter of religion, to gain the same ground the Islamists have.”
Negad Al Borai, a human rights activist and Chairman of the Foundation for the Development of Egyptian Democracy stressed that
there is no explicit provision in the law authorizing the arrest of “the person who breaks his fast during the day in Ramadan.”
The activist added that he was strongly shocked to hear of such a crackdown, adding that “it is strange that the state is dissatisfied with the rise and spread of terrorist groups (Jihadists), while the state itself is trying to spread extremism and religious militancy and practice what they do, the members of the militant groups.”
Hisham Mubarak Law Center stated that the arrests are random and unconstitutional:
Where the arrest of several citizens, for the mere suspicion of interior ministry officers that there are citizens who are not fasting and then arresting them, then they find out that they are “fasting,” suspicion in these cases was based on seeing them buying ‘breakfast’ for their families, or were standing near a cafe