Friday, June 26, 2015

Ramadan Diary ~ 2015 ~ Day Nine

Ibn Warraq reports on a black day in Ramadan...

Today's events have cast a pall of gloom over the usual joy of the Holy month. Around the Medina of Fez people were stunned by the barbaric beheading in France, the slaughter of thirty-seven beach goers in Tunisia and the bombing in Kuwait City that killed at least twenty-five people. As if the unfolding disease and famine disaster in Yemen, the ongoing ISIS insanity in Iraq and Syria was not enough misery, today was a very black day.

Imam Sadiq mosque bombing

Islamic State claimed responsibility for a deadly explosion that struck a Shia mosque in the Kuwaiti capital after Friday prayers.

A posting on a Twitter account known to belong to Isis said the attack was carried out by a suicide bomber wearing an explosive belt. The attack was claimed by an Isis affiliate calling itself the Najd Province, the same group that claimed a pair of bombing attacks on Shia mosques in Saudi Arabia in recent weeks.

Friday’s explosion struck the Imam Sadiq mosque in the neighbourhood of al-Sawabir, a residential and shopping district of Kuwait City.

Kuwait’s interior ministry said at least thirty-seven people had died and more than two hundred people were injured.

In France, Police have launched a terrorism investigation after finding a decapitated body and a flag with Islamist inscriptions after two men attacked a factory near Lyon. The decapitated body found at the scene had a message written on it. One of the suspected attackers was arrested and named as 35-year-old Yassine Sali. He was known to the security forces over suspected links to to a Salifist group, but has no criminal record. He may also have been an employee of the victim.

In Tunisia at least 28 people have been killed in a gun attack on a beach in front of hotels in the Tunisian resort of Sousse, in the country’s bloodiest day since the 2010 revolution.

Tunisia’s health ministry said the dead include British, German and Belgian tourists, as well as Tunisians. The interior ministry said 36 people had been injured.

Witnesses reported that gunmen opened fire on the beach between the Soviva and Imperial Marhaba hotels. Officials said one gunman had been shot dead but there are unconfirmed reports that another may be on the run.

Police hold a suspect in Sousse

There is no moral equivalence when it comes terror attacks; one person killed or a hundred, it is still a tragedy. What does change things is the motivation and the timing. To commit atrocities at any time is wrong, but during Ramadan and on a Friday? And, in the name of Islam? That is undiluted insane evil.

Meanwhile, in the (slightly) saner world...

We are not even half way through Ramadan but already things are getting a little weird! Like Agadir.
Now, I have nothing against the good folk from down south, but they need to get up to speed  - by at least seven minutes.

Perplexed? Not half as much as those who were coming to the end of their day's fast, awaiting the call to the Al Maghreb prayer. The call came seven minutes early. Now, seven minutes may not sound like much, but it caused considerable consternation amongst those who broke their fast before realising the error. Was the day's fast valid, or was it not?

The Arabic language newspaper Akhbarona reported that the incident has caused doubt among many inhabitants as to the validity of their day of fasting.

In response, the management of the Regional Delegation of Islamic Affairs in Agadir said she was... "not authorised to comment on the situation."

Also in Agadir, following the storm in a teacup over wearing bikinis on the beach, the uproar over the case of the two young women who wore dresses to go shopping continues unabated. The women - hairdressers aged 23 and 29 - were surrounded by local shopkeepers who accused them of wearing flimsy and "immoral" clothes. Security forces intervened, wresting the women away from the angry crowd and placing them inside a police car before driving them to a police station where they were charged with gross indecency.

National Moroccan media has been quick to point out that the arrest of the girls is not only wrong, but plain silly! It has also been suggested that the police should have been protecting women's rights when they were surrounded by a mob.

Unfortunately, a local prosecutor took it upon himself to prosecute the women for "insulting public decency," a punishable offence which could result in imprisonment of one month to two years and a fine of 120 to 500 dirhams" under Article 483 of penal Code. However, lawyers have stated that Article 483 refers to "a voluntary state of nudity," but nowhere does it set criteria to judge a garment as constituting an infringement of morality.

Tel Quel magazine reacted strongly saying these case is an affront to the Moroccan Constitution, which guarantees equality between men and women. Article 19 stipulates that: "Men and women shall enjoy equal rights and freedoms in civil, political, economic and social life". The magazine says that the Moroccan government is working to achieve parity between men and women, and nothing in the law prohibits women from wearing a dress.

Fouzia Assouli, president of the Democratic League of Women's Rights, says, "It is outrageous to stop the girls instead of the criminals who surrounded them and assaulted them. This is sexual harassment and violence against women. Violence in the public arena is institutionalised and approved by justice."

Bouthaina El Makoudi, another activist for human rights says,"It is not just the story of these two girls but a general threat to individual liberties".  The young activist, whose video protest has been viewed nearly 10,000 times on Facebook, says the worst aspect of the business, "is that justice can show solidarity with this extremist thinking."

A protest will be held Saturday, June 27 at 2 pm in front of the the Agadir Wilaya office. Around the country other events are planned including in Sefrou which will be held at the same time in solidarity with the cause.

Ramadan heats up

Back on Day Four I mentioned “mremden” - the downside of Ramadan fasting. Being “mremden,” or being very unpleasant to people for no apparent reason, is one of the few negative behaviours you can see during the month of Ramadan.

With the hot weather arriving and set to get warmer still, expect an upsurge as dehydration and low blood sugar take their toll. Already we have seen fights outside a mosque in Meknes and sadder, the case of a heated argument between two brothers inside their family house, in the Bensouda district of Fez, during which the older one used a kitchen knife to stab his younger brother.

The brothers reportedly began arguing  over the younger brother’s attempts to take money from their parents to buy drugs.

With daytime temperatures heating up to 43 degrees celsius by Saturday, and around 42 on Sunday and Monday, a gentle reminder that keeping cool and hydrated is very important.

Tesco in Ramadan blunder after offering bacon Pringles to Muslims

A London branch of the Tesco supermarket chain has been left red-faced following the faux pas which advertised an offer on forbidden pork products during the holy month.

Reaction online has been swift and notably bewildered. For their part Tesco have responded through a spokesperson: "We are proud to offer a wide range of meals and products to meet the needs of our customers during Ramadan. We recognise these Pringles weren’t in the most suitable place and our store colleagues have now moved them.”

But Tesco couldn't get away from Ramadan issues. The following day, a Muslim shop worker refused to sell ham and wine to a mother-of-three because they were fasting for Ramadan.

Mum-of-three Julie Cottle had nipped into her local store to buy a few items when she was stunned the checkout employee insisted he couldn't serve her.

Julie was forced to use the self-service checkout in the Tesco Express, in Neasden, northwest London, after the worker walked off.

Julie said: "He pointed at the ham and wine in my basket and said 'I can't serve you that because I'm fasting'. When I told him he should be serving customers not turning them away he still refused, telling me to go to the self-service. I was furious."

According to the Independent, Tesco expects a sales increase of £30 million over Ramadan.

And, talking of food... Following on from our story on food waste during Ramadan, I discovered that some food being thrown away is not necessarily a bad thing - especially if it constitutes a danger to health. That's where the Moroccan office for National Food Products Health Security comes in.

During the first week of Ramadan the food security officers seized and destroyed more than 616,000 kg of food products deemed unfit for consumption.  This included a consignment of seafood from Casablanca destined for Fez. Much of the produce was seized at border crossings.

Another of Hamid's moderately funny jokes...

The Moroccan Taxation Office suspected that Omar, a Halal fast food restaurant owner wasn't paying proper wages to his help and sent an agent to investigate him.

Tax Officer: "I need a list of your employees and how much you pay them".

Omar: "Well, there's Driss, my hired hand, he's been with me for 3 years. I pay him 800 dh a week plus free room and board. Then there's the mentally challenged guy. He works about 18 hours every day and does about 90% of the work around here. He makes about 100 dh per week, pays his own room and board, and I buy him a litre of soft drinks and a dozen sweetmeats every Saturday night so he can cope with life. He also gets to help my wife with the dishes and the ironing".

Tax Officer: "That's the guy I want to talk to - the mentally challenged one".

Omar: "That'll be me. What'd you want to know?"

Saha Ftourkoum!

See Ibn's Ramadan Dairy
DAY ONE           DAY FIVE          DAY TEN
DAY TWO          DAY SIX

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