Published time: 12 Jun, 2017 16:49
Tunisian protesters gathered in defense of the right to eat and drink in public during the Muslim fasting month. The demonstration, organized by a local rights group, comes after the arrests of non-fasters earlier this month.
The activists, who flocked to Tunis center on Sunday, chanted slogans and held posters in Arabic, English, and French, which read: “Why does it bother you if you fast and I eat?” The group called on the government to guarantee the constitutional right of belief and conscience in the country with no laws against non-fasting.
The group called ‘Mouch Bessif’ (Not against our will), which launched the event on social media, said they came to protest against the arrests of those not fasting. Less than a week into start of Ramadan, four men were sentenced to one month in prison for eating during daylight. The court in the city of Bizerte charged them with “attacking public morals.”
Another two men were detained in the city of Sousse after police found an empty bottle of wine in their car, Le Monde reported.
“Whoever wants to fast can fast, but whoever doesn’t want to shouldn’t have to,” one of the demonstrators, Karim Chair, told AFP.
The group also called for eateries to open before sunset, as cafes and restaurants are typically closed until Iftar, or the evening meal.
“Even if he is a Muslim, it is his choice! Even if he’s Jewish, we do not care, it’s really his choice! Why does it bother you that people do not fast? I don’t understand,” a high school student named Meriem told France Info while sitting in a café, which invites its guests to sit inside, out of public sight.
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Some demonstrators could also be seen smoking, which is prohibited during the holy month of Ramadan.
With similar calls heard since the Arab revolution in 2011, Sunday’s demonstration is said to be the first of its kind, in which protesters took to the streets in Tunisia.