Ramadan begins and Saudi Arabia demands respect

As Ramadan begins, it seems there are some discrepancies in Saudi Arabia where Islam was born. Photo: Muslims pray during Ramadan/ AP

CHARLOTTE, July 11, 2013 — For those who have not noticed, the Muslim holy month of Ramadan commenced this week. On the day before it began in Saudi Arabia, the Kingdom threatened to expel non-Muslim expatriates who are seen eating, drinking or smoking in public during the holy month.

This is nothing new in the Saudi Kingdom, which was the birthplace of Islam in the seventh century. Non-Muslim expatriates are required to eat, drink, smoke and even have sex behind closed doors out of respect for the holiness of Ramadan.

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To participate in any of the above activities is regarded as provocative and a temptation to Muslims observing the fast.  

In a statement issued from the Saudi capital in Riyadh, “companies and corporations are required to inform employees of the rules,” which apply a strict version of Shari law.

Currently, Saudi Arabia has a population of approximately 8-million non-Muslim foreigners who are expected to follow the dictates concerning Ramadan.

During the remaining 28 or 29 days of Ramadan, the supposedly holiest period of the Islamic faith, be prepared to witness increased violence throughout Muslim countries. Unrest during Ramadan is not uncommon. The Prophet Muhammad himself fought the Battle of Badr against Mecca during Ramadan in 624.

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According to the Koran in Sura 9:36, “God ordained the months twelve in number when He created the heavens and the earth. Of these, four are sacred according to the true Faith. Therefore do not sin against yourselves by violating them. But you may fight against the idolaters in all these months, since they themselves fight against you in all of them.”

In other words, Ramadan is a month of peace for those who practice the “religion of peace,” during which non-Muslims cannot eat, drink or smoke in the presence of believers. However, bloodshed against infidels is condoned year-round. This is known as “Islamic justification.”

While the lack of freedom increases during Ramadan, in Saudi Arabia, there are plenty of other restrictions throughout the year that keep everyone in line. In fact, a list recently published in Foreign Policy names Saudi Arabia as the third least free country in the world

Men notice restrictions to a lesser degree than women, due to widespread limitations that do not allow women to drive or travel within the country without a male family member as a chaperone.

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There are other restrictions as well, which, for many, may seem to be minor inconveniences, but for others can have a cumulative effect that makes adjusting to the culture particularly difficult for people from free societies.

Religious freedom does not exist in Saudi Arabia. It is impossible to find a church in Saudi Arabia or a Christmas card. Do not even think about having a bible in your possession or it will immediately be confiscated and thrown into the trash. Browse through a bookstore and you will be amazed at the limitations on the reading selections.

The internet came to the Kingdom long after other countries were using it extensively. Why? Because it took the government considerable time and effort to develop controls that would block hundreds of thousands of websites. Television stations and newspapers adhere to rigid standards, although access by cable networks is slowly finding its way into the country.

Religious police known as Mutaween patrol the streets, malls and other public areas enforcing Sharia law defined by the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, or the CPVPV. Imagine living in a country ruled by something called the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Preventions of Vice.

So powerful are these law enforcement officials that in 2003 several young girls died in a school fire in Mecca because they were not wearing their abayahs (burkas) when the fire started. The Mutaween locked them in the building, refusing to let them out.

From now until the early part of August, it is “be-kind-to-Muslim” month where we respect Islam by not eating, drinking or smoking as they maim and murder in other parts of the world.

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About the Author: Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. His goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime.

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Bob Taylor

Bob Taylor has been travel writer for more than three decades. Following a career as an award winning sports producer/anchor, Taylor’s media production business produced marketing presentations for Switzerland Tourism, Rail Europe, the Finnish Tourist Board, Japan Railways Group, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council and the Swiss Travel System among others. He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com) and his goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime.


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