In what may be the tastiest protest ever, members of Algeria’s Berber minority have protested the government’s crackdown on those not partaking in the Muslim fasting of Ramadan with an “Eat-In”.
About 300 people in a restive northern region of Algeria have joined a public lunch during Ramadan to protest against what they say is persecution of people who refuse to observe the religious fast.
The lunch on Saturday was highly unusual for North Africa, where people can be arrested for not fasting during the Muslim holy month.
It was held as a demonstration against the decision of security forces to question three young people who were eating outside last week in the Kabylie region during the 18-hour daily fasting period.
“We called this gathering to denounce the inquisition and persecution of citizens who, because of their beliefs, refuse to observe the fast,” said Bouaziz Ait Chebib, head of the local Kabylie Autonomy Movement.
The Berbers of the Kabylie are known for a more secular outlook in general than Algeria’s majority Arabs, and have had a historically tense relationship with Algeria’s government.
In previous years, Kabylie residents who refused to fast during the month of Ramadan faced charges of “acting against Islam”.
Apparently eating is now also a form of Islamophobia. While some Berbers are courageous enough to protest mandatory Ramadan fasting in a Muslim country, mandatory Ramadan fasting has been creeping into the UK for a while now with stories such as these.
All members of Tower Hamlets Council in east London, where 36 per cent of the population follows Islam, were sent an email asking them to abide by the restrictions observed by strict Muslims during the month.
Cllr Stephanie Eaton, leader of the Lib Dem group, said she would be ignoring the new Ramadan regime and added: “I was rather disconcerted to see that the arrangements put in place for Ramadan, which we support for Muslim colleagues, have been imposed upon all councillors.
“We object to the request that non-Muslim councillors observe the fasting rules for Ramadan. This sends out the wrong message to our community.
And there is even this modern twist on Oliver Twist.
An angry mother has accused a primary school of denying her child water on one of the hottest days of the year for fear of upsetting pupils observing Ramadan.
Many pupils at Charles Dickens Primary School, Portsmouth, Hampshire, are fasting during Ramadan, which means they refrain from taking food or water between sunrise and sunset for around 30 days, depending on the moon.