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PA police arrested 31 for gambling and eating in public during Ramadan

Headline: "An uproar in Ramallah after the police arrested people who broke the fast in the daylight hours of Ramadan"
      "The Palestinian police operation in Ramallah against people who broke the fast during the daylight hours of Ramadan provoked many responses, for and against, on social media.
[PA] Police Commissioner Hazem Atallah ordered to launch an investigation [of the arrest] and check the proceedings of the arrest of 31 people in a café in Ramallah. This was following their release, and after their statements were heard. [PA] Police Spokesman Luay Erzekat said that the Ramallah district police arrested 31 people today (Wednesday) [June 6, 2018] in a café in the center of the city, on the suspicion that they played gambling games in the café and publicly broke the fast.  Erzekat said: 'The Ramallah police received many complaints from citizens about many people playing gambling games, bothering citizens, and desecrating the sanctity of the month of Ramadan in the café.' He added: 'As a result of this, a police force was dispatched, and when it arrived it became clear that there were 31 people in the café. They were taken to the police station in order to hear their statements and clarify whether there was truth to the complaints.' He noted that Jordanian Penal Code No. 16 of 1960 (which is used in the PA –Ed.) criminalizes whoever plays gambling games, whether in a public place or a private place.
Erzekat explained that it is forbidden to desecrate the sanctity of the month of Ramadan, and that the punishment for this is a month of imprisonment or a fine of 15 dinars.
Director General of the Independent Commission [for Human Rights] (established by former PA and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat –Ed.) Ammar Dwaik condemned the decision [to arrest them]. He described it as 'offensive and puzzling in terms of the timing and the ostentatious way in which it was carried out'… Dwaik said: 'There are many things that are more fitting for the [PA] Security Forces to take an interest in rather than dealing with matters that are within the framework of individual rights, especially in Ramallah, which is full of tourists and foreign representatives, and which has a religious diversity of which we are proud'…
He revealed that the Independent Commission [for Human Rights] has been in contact with the relevant bodies, and that as a result of this the detainees were released, as it had not been proven that any of them gambled.
In a Facebook post, Dwaik noted that Erzekat told him that the police respect individual freedom… and that there are many restaurants that operate in Ramallah during Ramadan without being hassled by the police, as the police have no policy of entering any restaurants or supervising them. [Erzekat] said that what happened today in Ramallah was a result of many petitions and complaints that the police received regarding the existence of a nuisance and gambling games, especially considering the fact that the café is located in the center of the city and does not erect partitions, which agitated many passersby, who turned to the police."

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