Thursday, November 03, 2005

Jailed for Eating Lunch !

Algerians jailed for eating lunch.

Muslims break their fast at dusk during Ramadan. An Algerian court has sent four men to jail for eating lunch in a restaurant during the holy month of Ramadan. During this period,practising Muslims are meant to observe a fast between the hours of dawn and dusk. The three offenders were picked up in the town of Bejaia, some 260km east of Algiers and were found guilty of conspicuous contempt of religion.
The restaurant manager was given six months in prison. The others were sentenced to three months each. The BBC's Mohammed Areski Himeur in Algiers says this is the first time in Algeria that anyone has actually been tried and condemned for not observing the fast during Ramadan. One of their lawyers argued that his clients did not show any public contempt of religion, since they were eating in a restaurant. "Had these people been eating outdoors, then there would have been public contempt, but that was not the case," the lawyer said.
Other clients eating in the same restaurant at the same time were not arrested, the lawyer added. A petition has been circulated in the region to ask for the immediate release of the men.
Meanwhile, a newspaper denounced the case as a form of inquisition by the state. Just before Ramadan started last month, security agents had warned bar and restaurant managers in Kabylia, not to serve food or drinks in day time during the holy month, saying that offenders would be brought to justice.


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