Breaking Pakistan’s Ramadan Fasting Laws Has Serious Consequences

Source: NPR
BY 

The holy month of Ramadan is meant to be a blessed time. Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. But what if you can’t fast? In Pakistan, it’s illegal to eat and drink in public during fasting times.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

It’s the month of Ramadan, a sacred time for observant Muslims who fast from sunrise to sunset all month, then they gather for communal meals. But what happens if you can’t or you won’t fast? In Pakistan, it’s more than just insensitive to eat or drink in public during Ramadan. It’s actually illegal. NPR’s Diaa Hadid reports.

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DIAA HADID, BYLINE: Ramadan is a time of devotion. It’s also joyous. After sundown, when the fast ends, the bazaars come alive. But for Pakistan’s poorest workers, it’s a tricky time. You can see that many of them don’t fast. I was in Faisalabad. It’s an industrial city, and plenty of people here work in the cotton industry. Around the corner from the noisy cotton-weaving factories, there’s a teahouse. This is where workers come to break the rules. A waiter serves chai in battered cups.

The owner, Javed – he’s only got one name – says dozens of workers here come to eat and drink during the day. That’s technically legal. It’s forbidden to eat on the streets. But because open eating is criminalized, even eating in his tea stall can lead to harassment and extortion from the authorities. He says people like him are caught in the middle.

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