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Middle east

Saudi Arabia to expel foreigners flouting Ramadan

© Photo: AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-07-11

Saudi Arabia has told foreign-born residents to refrain from eating and drinking in public during Ramadan or face serious punishment, including work termination and expulsion from the country.

Foreigners living in Saudi Arabia caught eating or drinking in public during Ramadan will be fired from their jobs and expelled from the country, the foreign ministry said Tuesday, one day before the Muslim holy month of fasting began.

“Non-Muslim residents in the kingdom must not eat or drink in public during Ramadan, in respect to the holiness of Ramadan and the feelings of Muslims,” said a statement by the interior ministry published by the state-run SPA news agency.

The statement said those who chose to disregard the law “will be subject to deterrent measures that include terminating their employment contracts and expelling them from the kingdom.”

Oil-rich Saudi Arabia, which applies a strict version of Islamic sharia law, is home to eight million foreigners, mostly Asians.

Ronald Garcia Domingo, a Philippine national who has lived in Saudi Arabia for the past nine years, said foreign residents like himself were well aware of the rules -and consequences of breaking them- in their adopted country. Domingo, who works in the cost control department of a Saudi construction company, said he and other non-Muslims ate their lunch in a special, closed room. According to him, it is not difficult to follow the regulations, with the government even changing work schedules during Ramadan to help Muslims and non-Muslims to help abide by traditions.

“When you are in Saudi Arabia, you must do as Saudi Arabians,” Domingo, a Christian, said. “And I have never heard of anyone getting thrown out of the country.”

Saudi Arabia’s interior ministry adds that “companies, corporations and individuals are required to inform their employees” of the special Ramadan rules.

Saudi officials reportedly expelled thousands of Yemeni workers earlier this year citing “overwhelming number of foreign workers flooding the country,” and last year a group of Nigerian women on pilgrimage were sent home because they had arrived in the gulf kingdom without male guardians.

Date created : 2013-07-10

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