If We Can't Eat Lunch, Nobody Eats Lunch
A bizarre story coming out of Algeria is a weird example of the lengths religious extremists and their (in this case, state-backed) collaborators will go to in order to crush dissent and diversity. We're already used to Islamists threatening violence against non-Muslims who dare to commit "blasphemy" against the Prophet. But now, apparently, non-Muslims are expected to follow Muslim dietary restrictions -- or go to jail for three months.
The story goes that two Algerian Christians were jailed for eating lunch in a private setting during Ramadan. It should be noted that hundreds of people (presumably including many Muslims, though it is unclear from the report) were protesting outside the courtroom at the obvious violation of human rights -- and that this weird state of affairs would be only slightly less weird (but no less intolerable) if those enjoying a mid-day snack, then threatened with imprisonment, had happened to be Muslim instead of Christian.
Of course, it's not just in Algeria where such strange stuff happens. Non-Muslims who decide to buy food or eat during Ramadan in France may also face consequences. At least the persecution doesn't come from the state, but that's not much of a condolence when you're on the receiving end of an assault by extemist thugs.
It hardly needs to be pointed out that there are no corresponding reports of Jews attacking non-Jews for failing to observe the Yom Kippur fast, or of Christians jailing non-Christians for not attending church on Easter -- or atheists jailing anyone for celebrating any sort of religion (at least since the Soviet Union got scuppered). On the other hand, every year we see Ramadan-timed violence not only against ethnic minorities in Muslim countries, but spectacularly awful examples of death and destruction -- suicide bombings, arson, beheadings -- directed by Islamists against their co-religionists.
Religious intolerance is not culturally-protected behavior. Whether this intolerance is condoned by a state's institutions or improvised by violent thugs, it must be fought at all levels by moderates from the left and right, religious or secular.
Jonathon Narvey is the Editor of The Propagandist.