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ICC Note: 

Christians in Pakistan once again are facing greater restrictions this Ramadan. Recently, the Pakistani Senate passed tougher restrictions calling for 3 months imprisonment for anyone caught eating or smoking in public during fasting hours. Many have criticized this proposed law as being particularly harsh on minorities and the elderly. As Ramadan does not conclude until June 24, will any Christians or other religious minorities be punished under this law? 

06/08/2017 Pakistan (Christian Post) – Christians living in Muslim-majority countries are once again forced to comply with eating and drinking restrictions in public during Ramadan, the Islamic fasting month, which began on May 26 and will end on June 24.

Christians and other minorities found violating the Ramadan fasting rules are subject to public ire, physical violence and, in some countries, heavy fine and imprisonment, according to World Watch Monitor.

In Pakistan, an amendment to an existing “Respect for Ramadan” law to make the restrictions even tougher has been approved by a Senate panel and is awaiting final legislative approval. The proposed amendment imposes a penalty of three months’ imprisonment for anyone caught eating or smoking in public during the fasting hours (4a.m.-7p.m. in Pakistan).

Restaurants and hotels that serve food to customers during the fasting hours face a $250 fine. Movie houses that open during the fasting hours also face fines of as much as $5,000.

The proposed increases in fines and other penalties are expected to affect Christian and other non-Muslim Pakistanis.

Critics say this is proof of the increasing intolerance of minorities in Pakistan, according to ABC News.

They warn that if the amended law is approved and implemented, the elderly and people who have health issues will suffer, especially considering that temperatures in much of Pakistan soar to 40 degrees or above at this time of the year.

“People are going to die from heatstroke and dehydration, this is a ridiculous law…” tweeted Bakhtawar Bhutto-Zardari, the daughter of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and former President Asif Ali Zardari, adding, “this is not Islam.”

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