Muslims in Spain begin Ramadan fast

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YESTERDAY (June 18) marked the start of Ramadan, the month in which approximately 1.2 million Muslims in Spain will be fasting from dawn to sunset.
This is to be one of the longest fasts of the last three decades as it coincides with the time of year the days are the longest, meaning followers will be fasting for 17 hours per day, whereas in years where Ramadan falls in winter this can be reduced to as little as eight hours.
Mounir Benjelloun, president of the CIE Islamic Commission in Spain and the FEERI Spanish Federation of Islamic Religious Entities, explained that the figure has been reached by estimating the practising Muslims in Spain, minus children, elderly and ill people and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, as these are not made to fast.
The CIE has asked administrations, trade unions and employment authorities to make working hours more flexible to coincide with the breaking of fasts.
“This year isn’t much of a problem because fasting starts around 4.45am and ends around 9.45pm, but Ramadan isn’t always in the summer and one year fast breaking will occur at 5.30pm,” Benjelloun explained.
An agreement exists between the Spanish state and the CIE, in place since 1992, stating that members of Islamic communities may ask for their working day to end an hour before sunset during Ramadan. But the CIE has not yet applied for approval of this measure, which both parties have to agree upon to allow it to be enforced.
The commission has however been negotiating with businesspeople and institutions to temporarily allow timetables to be adjusted, meaning workers would start and end their working day earlier.
Riay Tatary, president of the Ucide Union of Islamic Communities in Spain and imam of the Central Mosque in Madrid, said that during last year’s Ramadan agricultural employers in Murcia, Almeria and Navarra allowed their workers to start at 7am instead of 9am meaning they were able to finish work at lunchtime and spend fewer hours in the sun.

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