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DUBAI: Police issue stern warning against violating Ramadan fast

August 13, 2010 | 11:28 am

Picture 3 Dubai police have warned the public that it will not go easy on violators of virtue during the holy fasting month of Ramadan.

In a statement issued by Dubai police earlier this week, Colonel Mohammad Nasser Razooqi advised the public to abide by the traditions of Ramadan, warning that public eating, drinking, and smoking during daylight fasting hours is an offense to Muslims and considered a crime Dubai.

Federal law in the United Arab Emirates  stipulates that violators could be jailed for one month or be subject to pay a Dh2,000 fine (around $550). So think twice before popping that soda in the street or lighting up in public during Ramadan in the glitzy island hub. It could get you into real trouble. 

Aside from the stern warning against Ramadan offenses, calls were also put out to the public by Dubai's law enforcement to help catch those breaching the law. Brigadier Khalil Ebrahim Mansouri urged people to contact police if they spotted anyone in the streets -- including motorists -- eating, consuming beverages, or smoking.

Detaining street eaters and drinkers during Ramadan daylight hours is rather commonplace in some Arab Gulf countries. Dubai, for example, has arrested a total 24 people in the past three years for the violating the ban, according to the UAE-based English daily Gulf News.

But the practice now appears to be finding its way to other Arab countries as well. In Egypt, the government last year for the first time launched a crackdown campaign against Egyptians who eat, drink, or smoke in public during daylight hours in Ramadan. 

Egyptian police fanned out across country, arresting 150 people in the southern city of Aswan for publicly eating before sunset and nabbing several other people in the popular Red Sea resort down of Hurghada, according to the pan-Arab news network Al-Arabiya.

In Morocco, a group of picnickers got tangled up with the authorities last year for organizing a picnic in the woods during fasting hours. As the would-be picnickers arrived at the train station in the Moroccan town of Mohammedia, they were met by squads of police who searched them and took the names and phone numbers of some of the picnickers.

-- Alexandra Sandels in Beirut

Photo: The statement issued by Dubai police earlier this week, advising the public to respect Ramadan traditions. Credit: Dubai police