The Palestinian Authority arrested six men across the West Bank this week for publicly breaking the fast of Ramadan, news watchdog Palestinian Media Watch reported Wednesday.
The official Palestinian daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadidah reported earlier this week that five Palestinian men were arrested in the city of Nablus for “desecrating the holiness of the month of Ramadan” by eating in public during the day. A sixth man was reportedly arrested the following day in the city of Jericho for the same offense.
Fasting from sunrise to sunset during the lunar month of Ramadan is one of five tenets of Islam.
Breaking the fast is prohibited in many Arab and Muslim countries, with legal penalties varying from fines to short prison terms. According to article 274 of the Palestinian penal code, citizens who violate Ramadan by eating or smoking in public risk up to one month in prison or a fine of 15 Jordanian dinars ($21).
A number of men were arrested in the West Bank for eating in public during Ramadan last year as well. In August 2011 the PA daily Al-Ayyam reported that three men in Nablus and two in Hebron were apprehended by police for eating on the street and “cursing God.”
Sheikh Yusuf Ida’is, chairman of the Supreme Court for Shariah Law, told Palestinian TV on July 22 that Ramadan offenders should be jailed until the end of Ramadan as a warning to others.
“I call upon others to be considerate of Muslims’ feelings,” Ida’is added, asking non-Muslim Palestinians to refrain from eating in public as well.