A cafe is empty near Sidon castle. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)
BEIRUT: The Abra municipality has retracted a memo that urged citizens to abstain from eating in public during Ramadan, after officials condemned the mayor of the Sidon suburb for violating citizens’ freedom of belief.
The original memo, released by Abra Mayor Walid Nicolas al-Mchantaf last Wednesday, called on residents to be considerate of fasting Muslims and abstain from dining at restaurants and cafes during the holy month of Ramadan.
According to a statement released Monday by the municipality, “[Abra] stands by its commitment to the provisions of the Constitution, especially the provision protecting freedom of belief, and therefore the municipality did not and will not interfere with the operating hours of local restaurants, cafes and nightclubs located within the scope of the municipality,” adding that the previous memo was nonbinding and no longer valid.
The revocation came after officials condemned Abra’s mayor for releasing the memo, saying that ““Lebanon’s diversity needs to be protected rather than destroyed.”
The Kataeb Party and other officials called on Abra Municipality to retract this “major mistake against Muslims and Christians.”
Abra is a predominantly Christian suburb of Sidon, but its growing Muslim community has received increasing attention since last year, when deadly clashes took place between the Lebanese Army and Islamist militants affiliated with Sheikh Ahmad Assir
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