Egypt government's anti-fasting campaign
|Friday, September 11,2009 18:17|
|By Joseph Mayton|
The Egyptian interior ministry said today that it was within their right to fine and arrest those citizens who publicly break their fast during the holy month of Ramadan. According to local reports from the southern Egyptian city, police have targeted those who “break their fast publicly” and if caught eating or drinking anything in daylight, police have arrested at least 155, including one man says he who was purchasing juice for his family.
Major General Abdul Karim Hamdy, Assistant to the Minister of Interior for Media and Information, said the campaign launched by the police officers in a number of security directorates against around 200 people for breaking their fast publicly during the holy month of Ramadan, is based on the law, defending a campaign that has raised a number of concerns over the possible spread of extremism among police in the country.
Abdul Karim 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.”
Judicial sources from the general prosecution said that the actions of the police is well within their legal rights, stating that publicly breaking the fast is a form of “incivility,” added that the interior minister issued a decree years ago to impose fines on those who break their fast publicly in front of people who are fasting the month of Ramadan. The official affirmed the right of the officers “to arrest any person breaking the fast publicly and [they] have the right to refer them to the Public Prosecution immediately to take legal action.”
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.
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.