France: Muslim Waitress Assaulted for Serving Alcohol During Ramadan

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Police officials launched a criminal investigation last month after a Muslim waitress in southern France was assaulted for serving alcohol during Ramadan. The attack took place in Nice, following which politicians immediately claimed that the incident was an example of the increasing influence of religious extremism in the country.

“This attack should be placed in a national context that has seen a constant rise in religious fundamentalism and ghetto communities,” said Republican MP Eric Ciotti.

At least one of those who assaulted the 30-year-old woman at Vitis Café near the seafront is believed to be an illegal migrant. The woman of Tunisian origin, whose identity was not revealed, said she was alone in the bar on June 6 when two men walked in and pointed towards the bottles behind the bar.

“You should be ashamed of yourself serving alcohol in the Ramadan period,” said one of the men in Arabic according to her. “If I was God, I would have hung you.”

The pair then referred to the woman as a whore, before knocking her to the ground. CCTV footage from the bar revealed that one man had even punched her.

The bar’s owner said, “The whole scene was recorded by the security cameras that I gave to the police.”

Both men are still on the run.

The waitress, who is a practicing Muslim herself, said she too observes Ramadan.

“It’s not because I serve alcohol that I’m not fulfilling my duty. I do it because I’m a waitress. In Tunisia, I did the same job and never had the slightest problem,” she explained. “I didn’t think that in France, a free country, I would have been assaulted like that.”

France boasts of having the largest Muslim population in all of Western Europe, with an estimated six million currently practicing Islam.

Ciotti added, “Each attack like this strikes a severe blow against the values of the French Republic.”

This year, the holy month of Ramadan commenced on June 6.

The Islamic ritual starts with the first confirmed sighting of a new moon – sometimes on different days in different countries. During this period of abstinence, Muslims are expected to fast through the day. This is one of the five religious obligations mandated by the Quran. Apart from curbing one’s hunger or thirst, Muslims are also required to withhold lustful thoughts during this period. According to Johari Abdul-Mallik, an imam at Dar al-Hijra Islamic Centre in Falls Church, Virginia, some Muslim scholars liken this abstinence to a heightened state of mindfulness or an almost-meditative state that brings believers closer to God.

This particular religious obligation is laid out in the second surah of the Quran, “O you who have attained to faith! Fasting is ordained for you as it was ordained for those before you, so that you might remain conscious of God.”

Despite being considered a religious obligation, many Muslims across the world choose not to fast during Ramadan. The Quran even excuses those who may be sick or traveling. Typically, that applies to women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, patients of heart ailments, children and the elderly.

For these individuals, the Quran states, “God wills that you shall have ease, and does not will you to suffer hardship.”

Ramadan comes to an end on Eid-al-Fitr, the final day of the 29 or 30-day period of abstinence, which is marked with lavish feasting and festive celebrations.

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