Australia’s New Rule for Asylum Seekers Makes Ramadan Even Harder

Source: The New York Times

By Sarah Malik

SYDNEY, Australia — For hundreds of Muslim asylum seekers being held in Australian detention facilities, Ramadan this year has been extra difficult.

During the holy month, which began in Australia on May 17, Muslims abstain from food and drink during daylight hours. For years, members of the country’s Muslim community have prepared home-cooked meals to share with the detainees after sunset, but a recent change to federal rules has barred visitors from bringing unpackaged foods into the detention centers.

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“Most of the people here are depressed,” said Sayed Akbar Jaffarie, 31, an Afghanistan-born asylum seeker who arrived in Australia in 2008 and has been detained since 2013 at the Villawood Immigration Detention Center in Sydney.

The government insists the rules are necessary to maintain the detainees’ health and safety, but activists say the measures are dehumanizing and are part of an attempt to keep the detainees further out of the public eye.

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