Tunisian Ramadan Protest– A Tunisian man has been arrested and jailed for allegedly brandishing acts of disrespect to the Ramadan obligation.
Tunisia is a predominantly Muslim country. Some Tunisians in Europe have been involved in extremist attacks.
A picture of the jailed Tunisian showed him unapologetically smoking with a placard which when translated in English read:
“Why is it bothering you if you fast and I eat?”
A court in north-western Bizerte town sentenced the man to one month in jail for what it calls “public indecency”.
Muslim conservatives may applaud the sanction but Rights groups do not think so.
For one, Amnesty International has termed the Tunisian’s imprisonment as a violation of individual freedom.
A statement from the group revealed that the arrested Tunisian was part of a protest in the country agitating for the freedom to drink and eat in public during Ramadan.
On June 1, a Tunisian Ramadan protest led to the arrest of 4 protesters. They were apprehended and jailed for the same crime of “public indecency”.
Since Ramadan is a religious call for Muslims to deepen their spirituality by drawing close to God, such acts like smoking and not fasting for conservatives is considered a mockery of the Ramadan.
Nevertheless, Heba Morayef, North Africa Research Director at Amnesty International justified the recently held Tunisian Ramadan protest.
“Imprisoning someone for smoking a cigarette or eating in public is an absurd violation of an individual’s personal freedoms. Failing to conform to religious and social customs is not a criminal offense,”
“The Tunisian authorities should not allow vaguely worded charges to be used to impose harsh sentences on spurious grounds. Everyone should have the right to follow their own beliefs in matters of religion and morality.”
Ramadan is an Islamic period of fasting in commemoration of the first revelation of the Quran to Mohammed.
During this period Muslims fast from dawn to dusk. They are obliged to observe the fast, intensify their prayers and do good works at this time. Most Muslims break their daily Ramadan fast together as a community after prayers at dusk.
The word Ramadan is derived from an Arabic word Ramiḍa or Ar-ramaḍ, meaning scorching heat or dryness. In other words, it is an Islamic period when pleasures are toned down to the minimal.
Fasting cuts across various religions. Referred to as the “sawm”, fasting plays a significant role in the Islamic religion. It is considered one of the five pillars of the religion. Others include prayer, charity, faith and a pilgrimage to Mecca.
It is considered one of the five pillars of the religion. Others include prayer, charity, faith and a pilgrimage to Mecca.
Every Muslim is expected to fast at this time with just a few exceptions like health conditions, age, pregnant/breastfeeding mothers.
The fasting is undertaken from the hours of daylight between dawn and dusk. Core Muslims may choose not to eat or drink throughout the entire day.
Tunisia is a tourist attraction known to be one of the most liberal Muslim locations in the world. Regardless, the North African country has a majority of the conservative population.