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Egyptian police raid cafes during Ramadan fast

Raids come days after top Islamic body denounces eating during Ramadan as 'attack against Islam’s sacredness'
Plain-clothes police officer raids cafe in Giza suburb of Azouga on Thursday (YouTube)

A local politician in the Egyptian governorate of Giza began a campaign to clamp down on cafes operating during Ramadan.

Yasser Farag, a government official and vice president of the Giza suburb of Azouga, initiated the campaign on Thursday, according to the privately owned El-Watan newspaper, which also released footage:

Plain-clothes officers entered cafes on Al-Alamein Street, seizing 177 chairs, 50 tables and 25 shisha pipes, while police reports and legal complaints were filed against the cafe owners, El-Watan reported.

The move came after the Dar al-Ifta Islamic Institution released a statement on Monday condemning eating publicly during Ramadan as a “form of chaos and an attack against Islam’s sacredness.

“It is an act of openly committing a sin, which is prohibited and insulting to public decency in Muslim countries, as well as a flagrant violation against the sanctity of society and its right to respect its beliefs,” it said.

According to online newspaper Madr Masr, the statement was so aggressive that one user said she reported the post as “violent” and “threatening".

Raids during Ramadan have not been uncommon in Egypt in recent years.

In 2009, about 150 people were arrested in the southern city of Aswan for daytime eating, while in 2015, 25 people were arrested in Cairo’s Fifth Settlement district for publically eating and drinking during the Ramadan fast.

The officer who made the latter arrest said the people who were eating were “harming the personal feelings of fasting people in Ramadan”, though prosecutors later threw the case out as legally groundless.

The Egyptian Interior Ministry previously said that eating during Ramadan fasting hours is not a crime.

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