Students caught eating at the Bouzareah university campus, in Algiers on Saturday, were attacked by furious islamists.
According to the testimony of several students, the attackers violently assaulted the students they had surprised eating secretly in a corner of the university campus of Bouzareah (Algiers-2).
The students point out the indifference of campus security, who did not intervene. Worse, “the security agents defended the attacker,” stated one of the victims.
Each year during Ramadan, this question comes back to the forefront. The freedom of religion and conscience guaranteed by the Constitution is often not applied in practice. The debate, is always passionate between those who support the arrest of non-fasters under the pretext of undermining the values of Islam and offending the sensibilities of Muslims in this month of Ramadan, and those who defend the individual freedoms guaranteed by the basic law of the country.
It must be noted that legally, it is not explicitly mentioned that non-fasters break the law in any shape or form. On the other hand, at the social level, the sacredness of this month by muslims forbids any expression of non-fasters, who are often demonised.
During Ramadan, restaurants and cafes are closed. The act of eating in public is considered provocative, and several people have been lynched by crowds who do not ask questions about the motivations of the individual before assaulting non-fasters, some commenters have noted that many people have health conditions which prevent them from fasting, in addition to the ones who are simply not of the islamic faith, such as the Christians and the Jews.
On the side of the authorities, the strategy is unclear; the police and the National Gendarmerie have already arrested non-fasters, some of whom have even been sentenced by the courts.
Many collectives were born to defend freedom of worship and conscience and the right not to observe fasting. Others campaign on social networks to denounce the pressure they are undergoing.
Whilst millions are in the streets protesting on a weekly basis for individual freedoms and democracy, a minority of Algerians remain intolerant particularly when the matter touches on religion.