The law in several countries, mostly in the Persian Gulf but also in the Maghreb and parts of Indonesia, provides for stiffer penalties for those who break fast in public, ranging from fines to flogging. Take article 222 of Morocco’s penal code, dating from the era of the French protectorate, which states that “a person commonly known to be Muslim who violates the fast in a public place during Ramadan, without having one of the justifications allowed by Islam [such as travelling or sickness], shall be punished by one to six months in prison,” as well as a fine.
Last Ramadan, a small group of young Moroccans calling itself the Alternative Movement for Individual Freedoms decided to hold a picnic near Casablanca, the country’s commercial capital, to protest against this law. They argue that article 222 clashes with Morocco’s international obligations and its constitution, which guarantee freedom of conscience. They were arrested before getting a chance to take a bite.
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