By Mark Ellis —
An Egyptian Christian was held by police for carrying a bottle of water during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, when Muslims are required to fast from sun-up to sundown, according to World Watch Monitor (WWM).
Hani Girgis, 31, a photographer with the Tahrir newspaper, arrived at Giza railway station, when he was approached by a police officer and asked to present his identification.
When the officer discovered from the ID that he was a Christian, he started searching his bag.
“There was a bottle of water inside my bag and, while he was searching it, he was staring at this bottle with anger,” Girgis told WWM. “He took my ID from me and asked me to follow him. When I resisted and asked where he was taking me, he started insulting me and ordered that I stopped talking — as if I was a criminal.”
At the police station, Girgis was told he was being arrested because of the water found in his bag.
“Why did you have this bottle of water while we are in Ramadan?'” the officer demanded.
“I was not fasting because I was a Christian,” Girgis replied.
The officer insulted him and said he would stay at the station until sunset and that he was not allowed to sit down.
Girgis called his editor-in-chief at the Tahrir newspaper, who came to the station and interceded for his release.
Despite this incident, Girgis continues to show deference to Muslims during Ramadan. “When I am at work, I don’t eat or drink in front of my Muslim colleagues, as a sign of respect,” he told WWM.
In a separate incident, another Egyptian Christian was beaten after being spotted drinking from a water bottle during Ramadan, according to WWM.
On June 6th, Adel Ayoub, 52, a farmer from the village of Beni Ibrahim, was drinking water outside when he was approached by a group of young men.
“Why are you breaking Ramadan fasting?'” the men wanted to know.
“I am a Christian,” he replied.
As soon as they heard the word ‘Christian’, they flew into a rage and “attacked and beat me with their hands until I almost fainted,” Ayoub told WWM.
After the attackers fled, Ayoub called his son, who took him home.
In a third incident, a Christian microbus driver was attacked for drinking a cup of tea in a Cairo suburb.
Ashraf Mourad was standing at a bus stop in Helwan on June 1st when he witnessed men attack a bus, smashing its windows and injuring the driver with the broken glass.
“I approached the microbus and found out that the driver was attacked because he was drinking a cup of tea inside and also because he was a Christian,” Mourad told WWM.
“There was a tattoo of a cross on his right wrist,” he added.
Eating or drinking during the fasting hours of Ramadan “is not part of the personal freedom of people,” but rather an aggression against Islam, according to the Egyptian Fatwa House.
Their 2016 decree stipulates that Egypt’s Christians should not eat or drink publicly as a sign of respect toward Islam.
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