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Algeria politician calls for suspending fasting in Ramadan due to coronavirus

Algerians gather to break their fast on the Sablettes seafront promenade on 25 May, 2018 [RYAD KRAMDI/AFP via Getty Images]
Algerians gather to break their fast on the Sablettes seafront promenade on 25 May, 2018 [RYAD KRAMDI/AFP via Getty Images]

Algerian politician, Noureddine Boukrouh, has called for fasting in Ramadan to be stopped this year because it “poses a health risk and contributes to the outbreak of the coronavirus”.

The former head of the Algerian Renewal Party (PRA) published an article on Facebook under the title “Coronavirus and civilisations”, in which he called for the suspension of fasting this year due to the spread of COVID-19.

Boukrouh stated: “Muslims have either to suspend fasting, because a hungry body may increase its vulnerability and stimulates the spread of the COVID-19 virus or to opt for fasting and be at the risk of a wider outbreak of the virus.”

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The article sparked a wave of controversy in Algeria, especially on social media, where some saw Boukrouh’s suggestion as a rule that stimulates the launching of jurisprudence in dealing with the crisis, while others attacked him for interfering “in a purely religious issue only Islamic and medical scholars can tackle”.

Neither the Ministry of Religious Affairs nor other religious bodies in Algeria issued a comment on the issue.

Boukrouh said he had written the article after a discussion was held at the Al-Azhar Mosque on the subject on 7 April.

Last week, Al-Azhar International Centre for Electronic Fatwa stated on Facebook that “a Muslim is not permitted to break the fast in Ramadan unless physicians decide and scientifically prove that fasting will make him vulnerable to infection and death by the coronavirus; a fact which is not scientifically proven until this moment.”

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