Terrorists bombed a cafe in Lebanon this week, reportedly for being open during the month of Ramadan, a Muslim holiday in which observers are expected to fast during daylight hours. Some residents explain that the cafe remains open as a courtesy to individuals who cannot fast during Ramadan because of health issues.
According to al-Arabiya, four people were wounded on Wednesday as two assailants on motorcycle drove by the Makiya cafe in Tripoli, Lebanon’s second-biggest city (not to be confused with Tripoli, Libya), and threw a grenade into the establishment. In addition to the injuries, the Makiya cafe itself is substantially damaged. Those responsible for the terrorist attack have yet to be identified.
A city resident told al-Arabiya, on the condition of anonymity, that Makiya remains open to cater to those who do not fast during Ramadan and would not otherwise be able to purchase food: “non-fasting customers who have chronic diseases, such as diabetes, [high blood] pressure, kidney [disease], and ulcers.” The customers, the witness noted, were typically regular customers during the non-Ramadan months who were known to the cafe’s owners.
While there is no law preventing individuals from eating in public during Ramadan, the Tripoli municipal government did issue a statement asking residents not to do so out of respect for Muslim residents. The mayor of the town, Nader Ghazal, allegedly also told businesses to “respect the sanctity of the holy month of Ramadan.”
The Associated Press notes that officials have not definitively stated the attack was related to the cafe being open during Ramadan. As Lebanon is one-third Christian, it is not uncommon to see Christians eating in public during the holy month. The area in which the attack took place, however, is known to have a strong Sunni Muslim presence. The AFP confirms, in addition, that two of the individuals injured were Syrian citizens, according to Tripoli security officials.
The regional publication Middle East Eye additionally reported that Lebanese officials have monitored messages on social media threatening institutions that choose to serve food during the daylight hours of Ramadan. One message in particular urged Muslims to “deal with them in an appropriate manner,” though it offered no elaboration. The grenade attack was the latest in a string. Authorities were searching for several suspects of terrorist activity in Beirut on Wednesday, arresting one individual believed to have knowledge of terrorist activity in the nation.