Let them eat for God’s sake!

I couldn’t help but wonder about the rationale behind the punishment for public eating in Ramadan. 100 KD and one month imprisonment for just eating or drinking in daytime without hiding the “crime”! I don’t know about you, but it just seems too harsh for me.
I’m not saying that the law is wrong – God forbid. I know for sure, like everyone else in Kuwait, that all the legislations that we have are thoroughly studied, and punishments are always suitable for crimes. I’m just thinking loudly, enjoying the bless of freedom of expression that we still have here in Kuwait.
Aside from affecting the “big minorities” that live in Kuwait with us, this punishment also unnecessarily terrorizes the many Muslims suffering from illnesses, because of which they are simply allowed, if not encouraged, not to fast. But that’s not the whole point here.
The point is, if we are to punish people for “hurting the feelings” of others, and in this situation “others” are the fasting Muslims during Ramadan, then probably we should also ban women from wearing revealing clothes, because just like in the case of “eating in front of a hungry person” they can be walking in front of a “h…y” teenager. If it’s a matter of religion, then allow me to wonder why this piece of Islam in particular is implemented literally, if it is in Islam to begin with? Why don’t we implement all the legislations of Islam? Why don’t we cut the hands of those who steal also?
If it’s not about religion, and it’s only about protecting people’s feelings from being hurt, then why should we stop here? Let’s also consider banning rich people from driving expensive cars in front of poor pedestrians. Or maybe banning healthy people from walking in or around hospitals, because in all of these cases the effect is the same – showing people something they can’t have, at least at the moment.
Is it that big a crime for a Christian or Hindu or Buddhist to drink water under the hot sun if his religion is allowing him to do so? If it’s really that difficult to watch why then most of TV channels have cooking shows during the day in Ramadan? Not to mention the advertisement they show in breaks! Let’s penalize those channels too. If the answer is “you have the choice not to watch these channels”, then the answer to that answer will be “exactly, just like in the case of the thirsty Christian, you don’t have to watch him either!”
Crossing the red light, for example, is penalized only with 50 KD fine, even though it could mean jeopardizing lives of innocent people. In the meantime, peacefully drinking water in the street is punished with imprisonment and 100 KD fine! Don’t we have the right to assume that it’s not about the amount of harm each of these two “crimes” cause either!
I’m not a secular person. I’m in fact mildly religious Muslim. I pray and I fast Alhamdulellah. I’m just saying this because if I were an expat suffering from this law, I wouldn’t be able to write about it, because in that case the answer will be “if you don’t like it here – go home!”
Think about what we as Muslims felt when France banned the Hijab in its schools. We slammed France over this, accused it of being anti-Islamist country, how would we think about France if the French government told Muslims “if you don’t like it here – go home”? In my humble opinion, things should not be handled this way.
I’m not suggesting encouraging people to eat in the street, or calling on government to start distributing delicious meals with chocolate ice-cream for non-Muslims during daytime in Ramadan. I’m just saying that putting someone in jail for drinking water is a little bit too much of a penalty. If there have to be a penalty for that, wouldn’t a 5 or 10 KD fine do it?
But again, I’m just wondering here.

© Kuwait Times 2009

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