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RAMADAN RAGE: HOW CRIME INCREASES DURING THE MUSLIM HOLY MONTH

by JEREMY WILSON

The Holy Month of Ramadan is upon us. Most people know the month-long fast is a time Muslims are expected to demonstrate self-control, humility and submission to the will to Allah. What you might not know is that throughout Ramadan emergency services are overwhelmed by a spike in crime—a phenomenon known as “Ramadan rage,” which affects not just Muslim countries, but cities with high concentrations of believers, from Dearborn to Deptford.

The effects of this gruelling annual fast have been widely studied. Researchers say those taking part risk migrainesdehydrationdizziness, tachycardia, nausea, circulatory collapse… and even gout, owing to a build-up of uric acid. Indigestion caused by binge eating is also a concern—as is weight gain: Muslims often pile on the pounds during the summer months.

But aside from these medical risks, and more pertinent to the emergency services and law and order, is the primary side effect of not eating, drinking or smoking in the daytime: irritability that can spill over into violence.

Short-temperedness doesn’t just affect abstainers during the first few days of self-denial; rather, irritability increases continuously throughout the month, leading to shorter and shorter fuses as Eid al-Fitr, the blow-out party to mark the end of the fast, approaches. It is perhaps no surprise then that antisocial behaviour and domestic abuse surge throughout the Muslim world in the Holy Month.

One of the most expansive studies of this annual crime wave in Algeria revealed petty crime increased by a staggering 220 percent during Ramadan. Fights, disputes and assaults rose by 320 percent and instances of women and children being beaten at home increased by 120 percent. In addition, there was a 410 percent increase in accidents of various kinds and an 80 percent increase in deaths.

The findings of the Algerian study are widely corroborated. From Egypt to Indonesia, recorded violent crime increases by incredible percentages throughout the fast. In addition, Ramadan exacerbates other social problems and spawns specific crimes all its own: offenses not generally seen at other times of the year. Child traffickers in Yemen, for example, take advantage of the increase in food prices to purchase children from poor parents.

Non-Muslims are targeted for not observing the fast; church burnings are a given during Ramadan. But it’s not just religious minorities in Muslim countries who are attacked: it happens here, too. In 2010, a man was brutally beaten in Tower Hamlets by a gang of young Muslim men for not observing Ramadan. He was battered unconscious and left with serious injuries. No one was charged over the incident, leading to accusations that the police suppressed evidence because they feared being accused of “racism” or “islamophobia.”

In Muslim countries, governments prepare for Ramadan by boosting police patrols and carrying out public awareness campaigns about crime and the increase in accidents that is also a regular fixture of the fast. Of course, the emergency services in the U.K., hamstrung by political correctness, are more reticent to publicly acknowledge the challenges posed by Ramadan.

That’s not to say there aren’t figures available, if you dig for them: a study by the Accident and Emergency Department of St Mary’s Hospital, London in 1994 revealed a significant rise in the number of Muslims attending accident and emergency in Ramadan. This increase in road traffic accidents and other sorts of unfortunate incidents is hardly surprising, given that sustained fasting dramatically affects cognitive function.

The rigours of fasting are particularly difficult for British Muslims, who have to endure longer periods without food and water than those closer to the equator. It’s even worse for Muslims in Scandinavia: there are parts of northern Norway where the sun never sets in summer….

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Tehran during Ramadan: ‘nobody is really in the spirit’

Tehran Bureau correspondent

Iran has been referred to as a post-Islamist society – one in which conservative religious discourse and practices are losing their hold after decades of state promulgation. Iranians’ perspectives on the holy month of Ramadan, observed in Iran this year from 10 July to 8 August, appear to underline that view.

During Ramadan, in addition to taking special care to avoid certain sins mentioned in the Qur’an, Muslims must abstain from food or drink of any kind during daylight hours, a long stretch in the middle of the summer. The first call to prayer arrives shortly after 4am and the final call just after 8pm. The rules must be abided by throughout, and the summer heat – this year regularly nearing 40C – doesn’t make the job any easier.

Tehran’s Vanak Square bustles with hyperkinetic foot traffic at six in the evening. Maliheh, a 56-year-old employee at an car company who has come to pick up prescription medicine, shares her thoughts on Ramadan. “You know, I just love the atmosphere,” she says.

Asked what she loves most about it, she sneers. “Seriously? Who could find anything to like about this? Seventeen hours of fasting in 40-degree weather? It’s a living hell! We all sneak bites here and there at work, save for a few people who are scared about not getting promotions and whatnot,” she says with a laugh.

Her expression turns more serious as she continues. “Honestly, though, it has been more difficult. It’s the law and it has to be followed at work, too. For example, I’m being forced to drink less water, and there’s no cold water around to begin with.”

Hamid, who plans to retire in a couple of years from his telecommunications job, strolls down Narmak Street in north-east Tehran on his way to purchase some sweets. He is also fasting throughout the day.

“Everything is different this year,” he says. “In 1995, if someone had even a drop of water, everyone went and reported it and that person would get fired, or just scolded if they were lucky. Not any more, though. People are looking out for each other. I almost miss those days, though. It’s like people’s hearts just aren’t in religion any more.”

Does he think the easing of the authorities’ attitudes toward Ramadan customs is the result of a conscious decision? “I doubt it. I mean, yeah, for sure what’s going on in government has something to do with it. It’s all cyclical. When [the reformist ex-president Mohammad] Khatami was around, it was more like this. The police and all took it a bit easier on people and people relaxed a bit more. When [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad came and tried to turn everything upside down, it turned out he didn’t really have the brains to pull it off and a kind of silent resistance began forming.

“Take the headscarf, for example: The girls get all pretty and come hang around outside, even though they can’t be certain that they won’t get harassed [by the morality police]. They do it anyway. People just won’t take it any more.”

Ali, a 45-year-old live-in janitor at a commercial building, isn’t fasting for Ramadan, and the reason is evident even before he explains. “Man, I’m ill,” he says. “I have to smoke [opium] several times a day just to stay on my feet and take care of this building. I swear to God, I used to fast. As a little kid in the shah’s time I did fast, but when the mullahs made it obligatory I stopped. I’m not mental, after all.”

Still, no one on the streets of the capital is ready to go so far as to light up a cigarette, take a bite of food, or sip from a bottle of water outside during daylight. Two years ago Sardar Ahmadi Moghadam, chief of Iran’s national police, warned that anyone breaking the fast in public would be arrested. According to the semi-official Mehr news agency, no such threat was issued this year, but Moghadam has stressed that those who have received official exemptions from fasting – nearly a third of the population – are still forbidden from breaking the fast in public.

Majid, a 28-year-old computer store clerk, feels that most Iranians “sure know how to put on a show,” but sincere religious practice has long been fading. “Only during Ramadan am I reminded of how it was before, when the morningazan rings out and the streets are empty. Otherwise, nobody is really in the spirit of Ramadan….

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Why Do Muslims Eat More During Ramadan?

By David Wood

….Why do Muslims eat more when they’re fasting than when they’re not fasting? Why put a mask of piety on gluttony?

The answer, I think, lies at the very heart of Islam. Islam does not make people more holy or spiritual. Rather, it gives them a religious framework for carrying their desires to perverse extremes. 

If a non-Muslim man hits a few clubs and somehow manages to have sex with ten women in one day, Islam will condemn him as a fornicator. But if this same man converts to Islam, marries four women, and takes six sex-slaves as his captives after a battle, he can be perfectly righteous before Allah, even if he has sex with ten women in one day.

Likewise, if a man hires a prostitute and sleeps with her, he has sinned, according to Islam. But if the same man sets up a “temporary marriage” (a practice called “Muta“), he can hire the same prostitute, for the same amount of time, have sex with her in the exact same way, and bear no shame whatsoever in the Muslim community.

If a psychopath goes on a killing spree, brutally murdering men, women, and children, he is surely going to hell, according to Islam—unless, of course, he is killing men, women, and children in a terrorist attack for the sake of Allah, in which case his violent massacre will earn him a one-way ticket to Paradise. 

Even according to Muslim sources, the tribes of Mecca were violent, lascivious, and gluttonous.Muhammad didn’t change their behavior by forcing them to convert to Islam. He simply made their violence, lasciviousness, and gluttony pleasing to Allah. Should we be surprised that Ramadan is a month-long feast that Muslims call “fasting”?

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Egypt: Muslims Thrash Christian for Drinking Water on Ramadan

By Raymond Ibrahim

According to Coptic websites, on July 27, a diabetic man in Egypt was driving his car in Maadi, a suburb of southern Cairo, when he was struck with great thirst, “which he could not bear” (a side-effect of diabetes, further exacerbated by Egypt’s July weather). He pulled over by a public water source and started to drink water. Soon three passer-bys approached him, inquiring why he was drinking water (among the many things forbidden to Muslims during daylight in Ramadan). The diabetic man replied, “Because I am a Christian, and sick,” to which they exclaimed “you’re a Christian, too!” and begun beating and striking him on the face mercilessly. Other passer-bys began to congregate to see what was happening, but no one intervened on behalf of the diabetic Christian, until he managed to dash to his parked car and flee the scene.

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