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Refrain from eating or smoking, non-Muslims told

Riyadh - Saudi authorities threatened on Thursday to expel non-Muslim foreigners who eat, drink or smoke in public during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadaan, which begins this weekend.

The interior ministry urged non-Muslims to “respect the feelings of Muslims by refraining from eating, drinking or smoking in public places, streets and at work.”

A vendor looks on as he sells dates at a market ahead of the holy fasting month of Ramadaan at Utaiqah neighbourhood, south of Riyadh. Picture: Faisal Al Nasser. Credit: REUTERS

“They are not excused for being non-Muslim,” said the statement carried by SPA state news agency, adding that “labour contracts stipulate respect for Muslim rites.”

“Those who violate (that)... will face the necessary measures, including terminating work contracts and being deported,” the statement added.

Oil-rich Saudi Arabia, which applies a strict version of sharia Islamic law, hosts more than nine million foreigners, mostly Asians.

During Ramadaan, Muslims fast from food from dawn to dusk and strive to be more pious and charitable. They are are also required to abstain from drinking liquids, smoking and having sex.

The fast is one of the five main religious obligations under Islam.

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