In 2017, five people were sentenced to one month in prison for eating or smoking in public in the middle of the holy month.
At the central market of Tunis, during the first day of Ramadan, in June 2014.
Credits: FETHI BELAID / AFP
In Tunisia, a group of human rights groups called in an open letter the authorities to protect “Freedom of conscience and religion” by authorizing eat or smoke in public during Ramadan, which starts Thursday, May 17. Every year, under vague texts on contempt for good morals and circulars going back tens of years, Tunisians are arrested for to have eaten or smoked during fasting.
Interviewed last year by a member of a 1981 circular ordering the closure of cafes during Ramadan, the Ministry of the Interior responded with an ambiguous letter, according to a copy dated November having circulated in recent days in the Tunisian media . The Ministry justified the closure of the cafes by the risk of chock the fasters and provoke attacks, while assuring that there was no pursuit against cafes opening in the discretion nor against those who eat in public.
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Deploring the “Denial” of the Ministry of the Interior on the arrests of non-fasters, organizations call on the authorities to ” make to cease all attacks on individual freedoms ” . The signatories, including the Tunisian League for Human Rights, the Tunisian Association of Democratic Women and various associations for the defense of minorities, deplored, “As Ramadan approaches, […] increased threats to freedom of conscience, religion, opinion and expression” .
Hashtag #fater
In this open letter to President Béji Caïd Essebsi, Parliament, Prime Minister Youssef Chahed and power judicial bodies, the organizations stress that they are ready to grab justice for “To enforce” these freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution of 2014. Various other associations have also called for respect for freedom of conscience.
No law prohibits eating or to drink in public during Ramadan in Tunisia, but in the face of recurring checks, cafes and restaurants close or hide their windows during the day. Under the #fater hashtag, non-fasters share information about places that remain open on social networks.
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         In Tunisia, one month in prison for smoking in public during Ramadan

UN special rapporteur on freedom of religion Ahmed Shaheed praised last month the “Progressive vision” Tunisia, while noting the persistence of ‘Restrictions’ , citing the arrest of non-fasting people during Ramadan. In June 2017, five people were sentenced to one month in prison for eating or smoking in public in the middle of Ramadan.

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