Thursday, 24 July 2014

How A Moroccan Atheist Deals With Ramadan

Moroccan chicken, vegetables and couscous is one of my favourite things. (source)
There is an excellent interview in Morocco World News with an anonymous atheist who explains how he and other atheists in the country cope with Ramadan. This comes just a couple of weeks after another news story about atheists in Muslim countries who face jail time for not going along with state enforced fasting and abstinence. So there is at least an encouraging increase of discussion about atheism in the media in Muslim countries.

Interview: Moroccan Atheist Reveals How He Spends Ramadan

First off, this is not a joke. The Moroccan Penal Code specifies that eating in public during Ramadan, during daylight hours, can bring up up to six months in jail and a significant fine.

The interview is with Karim El Quamch (probably not real name). He describes Ramadan as "a period of agony and torture at all levels, physical and psychological." He points out the possible issues with starving oneself during the day while altering one's sleeping patterns in the night.

He describes the trouble he has to go through to avoid offending his family members and perhaps even go to jail. At this time, his family suspects nothing of his secret atheism.

He sleeps through a good part of the day to avoid the agony of fasting for something he has no belief in whatsoever -- or in other words, a theocratic imposition onto his own freedoms from religion.
“I go to bed at 6 or 7 a.m to kill time…usually that’s the best period to work in Ramadan because during the night all members of my family are asleep after dawn…thus I can eat and smoke while working without worries of being caught up.”

He goes on to add, “I wake up around 2 or 3 p.m..and I go outside to buy some food to eat… Eating and drinking happens inside my locked room. I always try to make sure that cigarette smells don’t escape from under the door using simple techniques.”
Remember, Karim is not a child. He is 36 years old yet the government is treating him like a mere boy. He is forced to hide in his room to eat -- not only by his family but by the State! This is a degrading human rights violation.

The article surprisingly doesn't go into any of that -- and we don't hear the Office of Religious Freedom bringing this up either. However, a Muslim commentor, Yassin Moutaouakil, apparently hailing from Université Mohamed V Rabat -Souissi, did come to Karim's defense, which I found encouraging.
Karim, I declare my solidarity with you. I respect you, though I am a muslim, who fast Ramadan. But, it us unfair that you have to memic following the beliefs of this damned society.
i don’t think any majority-islamic country allows freedom from and of religion. you can’t be an atheist in these nations. that means the entire religion is that way. pray to my god or die. wow, what a choice.
Well, there is hope in the next generation after all.

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