Ramadan: the month of torture

Commentary on Ramadan from Yasaman Bayani, Human Rights Activist who we interviewed on Bread and Roses recently.

The month of Ramadan, considered holy by Muslims, has start and we hear of people murdered by the ISIS (the Islamic State) or punished by different governments around the world imposing the religious laws on non-abiding people. For me who had to live under the reign of Islamic laws this brings many memories. During the month of Ramadan, we are deprived of one of our basic human rights: the right to eat in public. Eating, drinking and smoking in public is outlawed from dawn to dusk during this month and in countries like Iran, leads to arrest of the “offender” or sinner. At my university the cafeteria was closed for the whole month of Ramadan. It would only provide dinner after dusk. Most restaurants would also work in limited capacity. Otherwise they face threat and other harsh consequences by the religious authorities.

I have talked to many refugees and immigrants who have come to live in Canada and have asked them about their experiences in the month of Ramadan. Mahtab came to Vancouver as a refugee from Iran (Iran is officially known as the Islamic Republic of Iran). She told me her life story of being raised as the first child to a Muslim family in the southern city of Abadan and her experience in the month of Ramadan:

“For me it was the month of torture. My father was a worker and we lived in poverty. I was the first child and my father had decided to raise me as a Muslim woman. He woke me up before the dawn to eat. Then I was forbidden to eat until the dusk. I had no appetite to eat at 4:00 a.m. I hated to wake up that early in the morning. Then I had to go to school and refrain from eating and drinking for the whole day. I always lost a lot of weight during the month of Ramadan. At night, after breaking our fast and eating, my mother would take me to religious gathering that where filled with propaganda in favour of fasting. The mullas (Muslim clergy) who preached us about Ramadan told horror stories of what would happen to us if we refused to fast. We would all go to hell and burn in a ferocious fire. There were also snakes with seven heads that would attack non-fasting sinners and eat them as the mullas preached.

There were times that I was so hungry that I would eat something in hiding- a subversive act of sin. I felt guilty afterwards. I also had the most horrifying nightmares. I dreamt of being in a terribly hot place surrounded by aggressive snakes attempting to capture me. I would wake up with screams and my mother and aunts would spray cold water on me to calm me down. I cried and confessed that I ate while fasting and my mother sympathetically said to me “Dear daughter, why did you eat?”

When I was in grade 8 or 9, I decided that all of these fasting rituals and the Islamic teachings are too oppressive for me. I stopped practicing them.” [Read more…]

Moroccan activists defying fasting rules beaten; Join 20 July International Day to Defy Fasting Rules

On July 19th at 7.30pm, the Alternative Movement for Individual Liberties (M.A.L.I.) and the Council of Ex-Muslims of Morocco held a sit-in in front of the parliament in Rabat, Morocco for the International Day to Defy Fasting Rules.

The sit in denounced the violation of freedom of conscience and called on the Moroccan government to repeal Article 222 of the penal code which is incompatible with international Human Rights Conventions signed and ratified by Morocco. Article 222 says “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 [such as travelling or sickness], shall be punished by one to six months in prison,” as well as a fine.

5 minutes into the start of the sit in, 6 non-uniformed police pushed, hit and insulted protesters. They also confiscated three phones and deleted contents of the photos taken as well as photos including that of a Dutch journalist, a laptop and some IDs. This attack in condemned.

On 20 July, International Day to Defy Fasting Rules during Ramadan, join Bread and Roses TV in eating and drinking in public in solidarity with people in Iran, Morocco, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Iraq… who are beaten, flogged, fined, imprisoned and harassed for contravening compulsory fasting.

To fast or not to fast in a personal choice. The state has no place in imposing religious rules on society.

Join the 20 July international day to defy fasting rules. You can also join Facebook Event.

I and the Bread and Roses team will be in Hyde Park at  1pm across from Serpentine Cafe picnicking. Where will you be? Picnic or eat in public at 1pm to show your solidarity.

Send us photos or videos of your action to be broadcast on our programme.

A media outlet linked to the Islamic regime of Iran has condemned our call for eating in public to challenge compulsory fasting rules. All the more reason to do it…

Join us today.

Bread and Roses
نان و گل سرخ
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Promotion of the violation of fasting rules by drinking alcohol to challenge the system


The below is the full translation of an article published in a media outlet associated with the Islamic regime of Iran against Bread and Roses TV and its hosts Maryam Namazie, Fariborz Pooya and Bahram Soroush. Read it and laugh!

Promotion of the violation of fasting rules by drinking alcohol to challenge the system
Enghelab News
7 July 2014

Counter-revolutionaries who use any means to conspire in the media against the sacred system of the Islamic Republic, have this time broadcast a clip encouraging opponents of the system to break fasting rules in order to oppose the Islamic Republic’s system!

According to the media monitoring service of ‘Engelab News’: Fariborz Pooya, Bahram Soroush and Maryam Namazie, three mercenary counter-revolutionary elements, have in the past few days broadcast a clip entitled “happy fasting violations” in cyberspace encouraging opponents of the sacred system of the Islamic Republic of Iran to violate fasting rules!

In this clip, Maryam Namazie, an immoral and corrupt woman who is considered a counter-revolutionary tool earning a living by doing anything to jostle a position for herself amongst the counter-revolutionaries, along with Fariborz Pooya and Bahram Soroush, drinks alcohol to the health of those who undermine the fasting rules; and according to her comes to challenge the system. She also encourages opponents to strike at the system by violating fasting rules.

With this ridiculous and farcical action, Maryam Namazie is even more exposed than before because she has not been and is not accepted amongst some counter-revolutionary elements. Some of them have even officially said Namazie is a harlot and a corrupt woman who just wants to jostle a position and promote herself amongst the counter-revolutionaries.

In this clip, these counter-revolutionary elements led by Maryam Namazie officially declare their solidarity with those who violate fasting rules in Iran and give them support!

Maryam Namazie has had a secret long term affair with Farokh Negahdar and has been known to be his girl friend.

In the past, counter -revolutionaries have tried to encourage fasting violations but not in such an absurd and ridiculous manner as drinking wine in the holy month of Ramadan.

Repeal Moroccan Article 222: Stop penalising people for eating during Ramadan

Article 222 of the Moroccan Penal Code states 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 [such as travelling or sickness], shall be punished by one to six months in prison,” as well as a fine.

Non-Muslim minorities in Morocco – such as Jews and foreigners – are exempted from the prohibition of eating in public during Ramadan. However, its application to people “commonly known to be Muslim” denies anyone the state considers as a Muslim, the right to come out either as a non-Muslim, or as a Muslim who simply choose not to fast.

As the month of Ramadan begins, we young secular Moroccans, call the Moroccan authorities, once again, to immediately repeal Article 222 of the Penal Code. This is clearly an attack on freedom of conscience, which includes the right of everyone to change their religious views, according to their choice, and at any time. It is also incompatible with a true rule of law, since “commonly known to be Muslim” is unclear as a notion that leaves the door wide open to judicial discretion of judges which is unacceptable. This creates an a fortiori, allowing for the imposition of a heavy prison sentence.

We stand for freedom of conscience, inseparable from any democratic state based on respect for the choices of its citizens.

We are Moroccans of all religious views (including practising Muslims), united to defend individual liberties. To this end, a press conference will be held Monday, June 23, 2014 at 11 am in the premises of the AMDH (Moroccan Association for Human Rights) at Avenue Hassan II, 6 Rue Aguensous in Rabat.

The press conference is open to public.

For more information, contact:
Imad Iddine Habib
Council of Ex-Muslims of Morocco
Skype ID : ZokTooR
+212 (0) 626-172590
Facebook: fb.com/Zoktoor
Twitter: @imadiddinehabib