Algeria: 4 people sentenced to prison for breaking Ramadan fast

For the first time, 6 people in Southern Algeria have been sentenced to four years in jail and a $1300 fine for breaking the Ramadan fast.
An Algerian court has jailed six people for four years each for failing to observe the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan, a human rights activist said Tuesday.

The six were also fined 1,000 euros each ($1,300), said honorary president of the Algerian League for the Protection of Human Rights Ali Yahia Abdennour.

The court at Biskra in southern Algeria sentenced the six on September 29, said Ali Yahia. The men were arrested by police while eating in public during fasting hours.

Ali Yahia said the convictions were not supported by the Algerian constitution, which he said "guarantees freedom of conscience."

In Gulf countries such as Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia it is illegal to drink, eat or smoke in public during the fasting hours of Ramadan, hefty fines are usually handed out for violators.

During Ramadan, observant Muslims abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and sex between dawn and sundown each day, after which they break their fast and eat a meal known as iftar.

The end of Ramadan is marked by the Eid al-Fitr festival which was celebrated in Algeria on October 1.

7 October 2008

Source: Al-Arabiya