You may have noticed that something is disturbing the balmy tranquility of the great British summer at the moment. Uber drivers are swerving more dangerously than usual, BMW owners are angrily shouting at old ladies to hurry up on the Zebra crossings and, if you drive through some neighbourhoods you can even see gangs of youths looking longingly through the windows of fried chicken shops. It’s an annual phenomenon that can only can mean one thing: Ramadan is once again upon us.
If you’re not already familiar with the intricacies of the Islamic holy month, Ramadan is a 30 day “fast” when Muslims are supposed to demonstrate self-control, spiritual discipline, and submission to the will of Allah. It’s also a time of year when emergency services around the world are overwhelmed by a huge spike in anti-social behaviour and crime – people call it “Ramadan rage.”
Don’t just take the word of this white, non-Muslim columnist.
Last year, Asian Image, a newspaper that bills itself as “the voice of the British Asian” published a vivid account of the verbally abusive parents, road rage, angry smokers, zombified fasters, and domestic abuse around that hits British streets each year.
You see, Ramadan isn’t a really fast, it’s more like a month-long festival of dehydration interspersed with heavy binging. From sunrise to sunset, all healthy Muslims are supposed to abstain from eating, drinking, smoking, swearing, gossiping, and having sex – basically everything fun. However, there is one big caveat – once it’s dark, everything goes.
As soon as the sun sets, Muslims guzzle down all the sugary crap they’ve been craving all day, take a short break for prayers, then return to bloating themselves.
The effects of this gruelling annual ritual have been widely studied. Researchers say those taking part risk migraines, dehydration, dizziness, tachycardia, nausea, circulatory collapse… and even gout, owing to a build-up of uric acid. Indigestion caused by the binge eating is also a concern – as is weight gain: Muslims often pile on the pounds during Ramadan.
But aside from these medical risks, and more pertinent to the emergency services and law and order, is the not so surprising side effect of not eating, drinking, or smoking in the daytime: irritability that can spill over into violence.
Short-temperedness doesn’t just affect abstainers during the first few days of self-denial; rather, irritability increases continuously throughout the month, leading to shorter and shorter fuses as Eid al-Fitr, the blow-out party to mark the end of the fast, approaches.
One of the most expansive studies of this annual crime wave in Algeria revealed petty crime increased by a staggering 220 percent during Ramadan. Fights, disputes, and assaults rose by 320 per cent and instances of women and children being beaten at home increased by 120 per cent. In addition, there was a 410 per cent increase in accidents of various kinds and an 80 per cent increase in deaths.
The findings of the Algerian study are widely corroborated throughout the Islamic world. From Egypt to Indonesia, recorded violent crime increases by incredible percentages throughout the period. In addition, Ramadan spawns specific crimes all its own: for example child traffickers in Yemen, take advantage of the increase in food prices to purchase children from poor parents.
In Muslim countries, governments prepare for Ramadan by boosting police patrols and carrying out public awareness campaigns about crime and the increase in accidents that are also a regular fixture of the fast.
They also accept that a sizeable drop in productivity will be inevitable (at the moment the volume of shares trading on Dubai’s DFM General Index is at about half what it normally is) and they take into account that their citizens aren’t going to be firing on all cylinders.
Many Muslim countries officially cut the working day by a couple of hours and it’s accepted that employees are going to need plenty of down time. School hours are usually cut as well as from the age of around seven, children are also expected to take part in the fasting.
Another way Muslim countries make Ramadan bearable for their citizens is to enshrine it in law – it’s much easier to submit to Allah’s will when the police are on his side. Already this year Indonesia has carried out raids on food sellers who dared to carry out business during the daylight and reports are coming in from Pakistan of a constable who beat a Hindu man for eating before the sun went down.
Church burnings are also a given during Ramadan.
But it’s not just religious minorities in Muslim countries who are attacked: it happens here, too. In 2010, a man was brutally beaten in Tower Hamlets by a gang of young Muslim men for not observing Ramadan. He was battered unconscious and left with serious injuries. No one was charged over the incident, leading to accusations that the police suppressed evidence because they feared being accused of “racism” or “Islamophobia.”
And woe betide any Muslim that is perceived to be falling short of the mark. Earlier this month a barmaid was punched the face in France for doing her job and serving alcohol in a bar.
Of course, the emergency services in the UK, hamstrung by political correctness, are more reticent to publicly acknowledge the challenges posed by Ramadan.
That’s not to say there aren’t figures available, if you dig for them: a study by the Accident and Emergency Department of St Mary’s Hospital, London revealed a significant rise in the number of Muslims attending accident and emergency in Ramadan. This increase in road traffic accidents and other sorts of unfortunate incidents is hardly surprising, given that sustained fasting dramatically affects cognitive function.
Despite the clear risk to the public, British police forces are reluctant to step up. Only in Bradford have the police admitted that the holy month produces an increase in crime. Though they have been advised by local community leaders that the increase is probably down to youths “taking advantage of the fact their parents could be occupied with observing Ramadan.”
Muslims living in Europe and the U.S. are more likely to succumb to the side effects of Ramadan, and not just because everywhere they turn other people are wolfing down packets of crisps. The big problem is that the month of Ramadan is based on the Islamic lunar calendar – it starts 11 days earlier each year.
This wouldn’t have been such a big deal in medieval Arabia, but in 21st century Northern Europe it matters a lot, not least because this year Ramadan coincides with the Northern Hemisphere’s summer equinox. That means Muslims living in Britain have to fast for around 19 hours during the hottest days of the year.
You would think the sensible thing to do here would be to make some judicious compromises – for instance, basing the fasting times on the sunrise and sunset in Mecca would both allow for religious duties to be fulfilled while keeping the worst symptoms of Ramadan rage in check. But when it comes to religious dogma, few Muslims are willing to err from literal interpretations of their holy text.
Instead of finding a middle ground, Western Muslims have a habit of demanding other people bend over backwards to accommodate their customs. And we’re not just talking about people throwing hissy fits on Twitter because they couldn’t deal with Tesco stacking crates of refreshing Budweiser at the end of the Ramadan isle.
GCSE and A-level exams have already been re-scheduled this year because they clashed with Ramadan, but the Muslim Council of Britain don’t think that’s going far enough. In an extraordinary document sent to teachers, they say that solution for hungry and thirsty kids not being able to concentrate in school is not to send them to the canteen. Apparently the “overriding consideration” should be that “children do not feel disadvantaged in school activities because of their religious observances.” The Muslim Council goes on to warn teachers that no oral medication can be taken by fasting pupils, medical injections should not “ influence body nutrition” and that swimming could be an issue because a child could accidentally ingest a bit of water.
The Muslim Council goes on to warn teachers that no oral medication can be taken by fasting pupils, medical injections should not “influence body nutrition” and that swimming could be an issue because a child could accidentally ingest water.
Forcing seven-year-olds not to eat or drink for 19 hours during summer isn’t tantamount to child abuse – it is child abuse. And yet in British schools, in 2016, that is exactly what is happening with blessing of senior establishment figures. The Association of School and College Leaders that represents head teachers and college principals released a paper this year warning that “schools and colleges should not dictate to children or their families” how they should observe Ramadan.
Even the NHS can’t bring itself to condemn the fast, saying in its official Ramadan guidance that while withholding food and water for 19 hours to children under the age of seven or eight isn’t “advisable,” it can be “tolerated differently, depending on the attitude of the parents.”
Is it any wonder that some British Muslims, who have been forced to sit dehydrated year after year through school as the decadent infidel children around the greedily quaff down bottles of water, come to hate their country?
Every time blood runs on the streets of Europe or a knife-wielding jihadi with a north-London accent pops up on YouTube there’s a lot of earnest talk about alienation of Muslims from society.
Yet no seems to want to talk about Ramadan.
Could there be anything more isolating for a young Muslim than undertaking forced starvation in the heat of Summer while everyone else sips Pimms in the park?
It’s a serious issue that needs addressing, because Ramadan is starting to bring something far scarier than ratty drivers and spaced-out school children to the Western world: Ramadan terror.
The Orlando terrorist who murdered 50 people in a nightclub. The Paris terrorist who live streamed his murder of a policeman and his wife in front of their infant son. This morning’s deadly attack in Turkey. They’re just the latest installments of Ramadan terror.
And terrifyingly these could be just the tip of the terrorist iceberg this Ramadan season. Belgium is on a virtual lockdown as the fear of attacks grips the city.
It’s no coincidence that these Muslim killers are striking now. And it’s not because they’re in need of a Snickers – in fact by carrying out Jihad they are immune from the diktats of Ramadan and are free to fuel up on carbs and fizzy drinks before they carry out their atrocities.
You see, for Muslim terrorists Ramadan itself is already a type of Jihad, in the sense that it is supposed to be a time of inner spiritual struggle. Mix in the zeal that religious piety has a habit of breeding, the desire to make the ultimate sacrifice for Allah, some egging on from ISIS, and it doesn’t take much for them to up the ante to violent jihad.