For Some in Tunisia, Ramadan Is a Test of Personal Freedom

A rare protest against the closing of cafes and restaurants during the holy month highlighted a debate about law, social pressure and individual liberties.

Comments: 5

  1. I live in Massachusetts, USA. I grew up during the last years of most of the Blue Laws days. Nothing was allowed to be open on Christmas. Except Churches. If you had a sick child, so what? No pharmacy was open & all Emergency rooms (if you lived near one) were extra short staffed so you could wait all day for help. The Cafeteria would be closed too.
    Christians don’t fast on Christmas, never did. But, the only restaurants allowed to open as the Blue Laws started to crumble were the expensive ones. Driving 4 hours to Grammas for dinner? Want a snack on the way? No fast food places were open. NONE. Only gas stations on major highways were open & back then (50’s-60’s) they didn’t have little stores attached. It got a bit better in the 70’s. One year, we were supposed to go to my folks in NH for Christmas. But, there was an ice storm between us. Not being stupid (& because Mom said stay home) we did. But, had nothing to eat (expected big dinner & lots of leftovers to take home). What to do. Went to the movies which by then were open, didn’t used to be. Had lunch in the movie. Cardboard pizza, soggy nachos, watered down soda.It all tasted wonderful. So, no one should be holier than thou about this article. Not long ago, it wasn’t so different.
    Now, Malls, McD’s, most everything. In NH liquor stores are open. I remember the first year movies could be open on New Years (so tired of parade & football which are not really Christian). Had to be at least 2nd run. One I went to was full.

  2. A dear friend and helper is a devout Muslim who, for the first years she helped with my half-paralyzed mother, gave herself an exemption Islam provides for people in demanding lines of work.Eventually, her family and friends persuaded her that she had to fast. It has been an eye-opener. She is a very fine human being, but rigid self-righteousness is a transgression against the community of humankind.

    From a health point of view, especially in northern countries where sunrise to sunset is longer, doing without fluids - even water - is unhealthy. Most people get moody if they skip meals, and skipping fluids is downright dangerous

    She has no idea the effect it has on her temper, and being self-willed (in mostly a good way) at the best of times, this is a trial to all those around her. She blames others for upsetting her, because she is not "supposed to" get upset during Ramadan.

    In addition, because she is not always perfect, she extends the time to 40 days, which I only recently learned was not even part of Islamic observance.

    When men make rules and claim the authority of god, it is impossible to point out the obvious: this is one of the greatest arguments against religion I know, the enforcement of arbitrary rules over the ages.

    I try to accept that most people are fed by spiritual impulses and need the comfort and strength that faith gives them, but this is a trial I think we would all be better without. Fasting yes, no fluids for 15-20 hours a day, no!

  3. The Arab world has stagnated for centuries because so much attention has been paid to ridiculous Islamic religious strictures, and not enough to living in the modern world. Barely a single significant achievement in academics or sciences in a language that once formed the very vocabulary of science. But there is a slavish devotion to rituals that were largely formed to brainwash devotion to the founding warlord....

    It's good to see natives to the region and the religion challenging the accepted wisdom that has caused that stagnation.

  4. “Ninety-nine percent of Tunisians are Muslims, so the minority of the nonfasting must respect the majority.” Rather than the majority simply staying away from restaurants, they restrict others from going. Sounds like several other issues floating around the US. As they say in Russia, “Your freedom ends where mine begins.” Let it be so.

  5. As the Christian world struggles to comprehend Islam, they forget this important fact about age and maturity.

    When Christianity was the same age as Islam (approximately 1400 years old) Christianity was also waging holy wars against non-believers and these included Christians who were questioning their leadership.

    Islam is also about 1400 years old, and while both 'true believers' to their respective faiths refuse the concept of evolution, in fact an evolutionary process does take place. The faster all sides recognize this fact, the quicker we all can get along with our lives in PEACE.