Every year during Ramadan in Morocco, there are multiple police reports of arrests of public fast-breakers across the country. In Al Hoceima on Thursday, police arrested a young Muslim man following the public breaking of his month-long Ramadan fast. The man faces prison time after police arrested him for smoking during daylight hours on Ramadan.
During the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, Muslims fast from the break of dawn until sunset, from about 3:30 am to 8 pm. Fasting during this month is one of the five pillars of Islam and is obligatory unless the individual meets special requirements such as illness or pregnancy.
Their fast includes food and water and cigarettes, and other forms of tobacco (chewing gum is not allowed). Sexual interaction is forbidden, and liquor stores are required, by law, to close for the month.
The Moroccan penal code criminalizes publicly eating or drinking during Ramadan fasting hours. Article 222 stipulates that breaking the fast in public during the month of Ramadan is an offense punishable by imprisonment:
Morocco’s penal code states, in article 222 that, “A person commonly known to be Muslim who violates the fast in a public place during Ramadan, without having one of the justifications allowed by Islam, shall be punished by one to six months of prison” and a fine.
It is not only local police who punish fast-breaker; when citizen ‘morality police’ see something ‘un-Islamic’ in Morocco, they take action. In 2016, a diabetic man was badly beaten by an angry mob for drinking water. Ironically during Ramadan, Muslims are supposed to practice mercy, devotion, and piety.