A fatwa, an Islamic legal opinion, posted on a facebook page that carries the name of the Dar al-Iftaa’ al-Misriya – al-Safha al-Rasmiya (The Egyptian Fatwa House – the official page) has caused an uproar on social networking sites, and moreover carried a few regrettable practical results. The fatwa was posted on 5 June, one day before the holy Muslim month of fasting, Ramadan, began. Muslims are required, according to the Qur’an, to abstain from eating or drinking Ramdan from dawn to sunset. The fatwa banned anyone, even if non-Muslim, to publicly reveal that he or she is not fasting during Ramadan since this would violate the sanctity of Islam. To date, Dar al-Iftaa’ has neither denied nor endorsed the fatwa.
Meanwhile, radical Muslims seem to have taken this statement as a pretext to assault non-fasting Muslims or Christians who, naturally, do not fast. Christians have always had the tradition of respecting the feelings of those who fast; they never ate or drank in public during Ramadan. After the recent fatwa, however, they have been attacked for the mere reason of vacationing in Ramadan.
Throwing eggs at Cots
The North Coast town of Marsa Matrouh, some 300km west of Alexandria, boasts lovely summer weather and idyllic beaches that make it a popular holidaying destination especially with Copts. Since most Muslims prefer to spend Ramadan at home, sea resorts in Egypt have low occupancy rates and many Copts capitalise on the occasion and plan their holidays during Ramadan.
This year, groups of Coptic holidaymakers walking on the seafront road known as the Corniche were amazed to find eggs thrown at them by men in a car driving by. The car was a blue Verna, and the incident was repeated with other Coptic groups walking on the Corniche. Sameeh Kamel Moawad Attiya, a live witness, said that the Copts were able to photograph the car, and filed a complaint with the police.
The police was able to track down and catch the egg throwers who are now being prosecuted. A number of tribal elders in Matrouh have offered to work a conciliation between the local egg throwers and the Copts, but the Copts have rejected that offer and said they required that the law should be applied.
Not only Copts
Another Ramadan incident occurred recently at the Engineers Syndicate’s coastal club in Alexandria, when a group of engineers and their guests were denied access to the club after the club’s private security guards discovered that they carried foods in their car trunk during a Ramadan day. The engineers assured the security guards that they had no intention of eating during the fasting hours, and that they were just seeking to spend some social time at the club. They even suggested leaving the food or the car itself by the guards, but their proposal was rejected and they were turned away from the club. They left in anger, threatening that they would file a complaint with the syndicate’s president. The guards’ reply: “Whoever wishes to complain is welcome to do so.”