Ramadan 'police' target Pakistan's cafe society
But in Islamabad, during daylight hours . . . From The Guardian
Police in Islamabad enforce law forbidding people from eating or drinking in public during Islamic fasting month.
Mocca Cafe is the not the den of iniquity that might normally attract a police raid.But Islamabad's police have suddenly found cause to turn their attention to the capital's poshest eateries in an effort to enforce a patchily applied, decades-old law forbidding people from eating or drinking in public during the fasting month of Ramadan.
Customers and proprietors were shocked on Saturday when, nearly halfway through the holy month, Mocca and at least two other popular eating spots in the well-heeled Kohsar market were visited by police officers cracking down on the illicit consumption of muffins and brownies, not to mention smoothies and skinny lattes.
A message circulated on an expatriate email list by a customer who had been in the Gloria Jeans coffee shop at the time reported a "large commotion". "There was a lot of hostility in the air because foreigners were being served while others (Pakistanis) were being told to leave," the email said, before going on to advise expats to give restaurants a wide berth until the end of Ramadan. "Personally, I wouldn't take the chance after the anger I felt while in the coffee shop."
The raids, which police say were prompted by a complaint from a member of the public, followed last month's police assault of a journalist who had the temerity to consume a soft drink in his car at a secluded hilltop beauty spot overlooking Islamabad. He said he was beaten with belts by the officers, who threatened to charge him under the Ramadan Ordinance
The police involved in last week's raids say they were simply enforcing the law. One senior officer, who did not wish to be named, said he was actually trying to discourage extremists. "Personally I have no problem with people eating, but if the restaurants and hotels in the less privileged parts of the city are not serving food then it gives us an image problem with militants and religious people. They say the common people abide by the law, why don't you take action against the posh areas?"
Posted on 08/09/2012 3:43 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax