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Troops in Mideast given guidance on Ramadan

29 July 2011 General 10 Comments Email This Post Email This Post

US Troops

By GEOFF ZIEZULEWICZ Stars and Stripes

NAPLES, Italy — As Muslims prepare to observe the holy month of Ramadan with fasting and prayer, U.S. troops across the Middle East are being reminded to respect the customs of the societies around them. Among the guidelines: Do not eat, drink, smoke or chew gum in public during the daily fast, and dress appropriately: no shorts or short skirts.

During Ramadan, which this year begins Aug. 1, Muslims refrain from eating or drinking between sunup and sundown.

Among guidance issued to U.S. military deployed in Muslim majority countries, the Bahrain-based command of U.S. Navy 5th Fleet posted guidance for sailors and their family members to heed during Ramadan when off base.

U.S. personnel are not expected to fast during Ramadan, but community members must refrain from eating, chewing gum, drinking water, smoking or chewing tobacco in public during daylight hours, according to 5th Fleet. “‘In public’ includes riding in a bus or car (even your own), walking or exercising,” according to the 5th Fleet’s Facebook page. “Eating, drinking or smoking by a non-Muslim in public during the day is considered a civil offence by many local laws, which may result in a fine or confinement.”

Alcohol consumption by U.S. military personnel in any off-base venue is prohibited during the holiday, with the exception of USO/MWR facilities, private off-base dwellings, or hotel rooms occupied by troops who are transferring or on a business trip.

Shorts are prohibited while off base during Ramadan as well, according to 5th Fleet, and women are required to wear pants or skirts long enough to cover their knees when seated.

Fifth Fleet spokesman Lt. Frederick Martin said this week that the command sends out Ramadan guidance annually.

“When in public, both in Bahrain and elsewhere in the 5th Fleet area of operations, Ramadan brings increased cultural and legal restrictions, which we, as guests in these countries, are expected to adhere to,” Martin said in an email.

In Kuwait and Qatar, U.S. 3rd Army provides training to troops, and also instructs them not to eat, drink, smoke or chew tobacco while off-base, spokesman Capt. James Sweeney said in an email.

“They are also warned that these actions are punishable under local law,” he said.

In Iraq, personnel are encouraged not to eat, drink or smoke in the presence of Muslims during the daytime hours, according to U.S. Forces-Iraq spokesman 1st Lt. Joseph Larrew.

“Also, any troops conducting meetings with Iraqis are encouraged to do so earlier in the day to be considerate to their needs,” he said in an email.

While NATO troops in the field across Afghanistan are not restricted from eating, drinking or smoking outside the wire, they are made aware of the holiday, according to Air Force Maj. Deb Balentine, a spokesman for the coalition’s International Security Assistance Force.

Troops are encouraged to be sensitive to the importance of fasting and not to eat or drink in front of Afghan citizens, she said.

They are also told to be aware of the limits fasting may put on Afghan police or soldiers’ abilities to conduct operations or train, she said.

A Defense Department press release Tuesday said Afghan soldiers and Marines from 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment in Helmand province were planning to distribute more than 1,200 bags of wheat grain to the local population.

“The Ramadan holiday is part of the daily life of every Afghan person,” 1st Lt. Paul Mooney, the assistant civil affairs team leader for 1/3, said in the release. “Showing we respect the holiday will help the perception of Marines to positively change.”

Original post: Troops in Mideast given guidance on Ramadan


  1. While I understand why the Navy has issued its orders it is sad that people have to respect a religion so much that they must abide by its restrictions even if they do not follow the faith of that religion. I wonder if countries that have implimented laws requiring adherence to Muslim traditions during Ramadan also have laws requiring Muslims and others to adhere to the traditions of other religious groups in their country, assuming they are allowed to exist. Maybe someday in these rogue Islamic Republics, the religion will mature enough not to force others to adhere to their beliefs. Now to those who do not like me calling them a rogue republics, it has been said many times, in these forums, that many of these Islamic countries do not represent Islam as it is meant to be recognized and that Islam cannot be judged by their actions. As a result I realize that countries such as this have a skewed view of Islam and are misguided in their pursuit of the faith. It is also my hope that better educated relgious leaders will make themselves available to these states so that Islam can be taught and follwed as it was meant to be.

  2. If Islam is not supremacist why are non-Muslims punished for eating or drinking during Ramadan?Are Muslims soldiers stationed in non-Muslim countries required to adhere to the religious customs of Jews, Hindus or Christians?

  3. After the killing over 100,000 civilians in Iraq, torturing and taking pictures grinning inanely over battered bodies, I think refraining from stuffing their faces in public is the least the American military can do.

  4. leila,

    i don’t think it’s the forces in iraq and afganistan that they are talking about. i’m pretty sure that the guys and gals on patrol in iraq and afganistan are still allowed to stay hydrated and nourished during the day. actually encouraged to. at least i hope so. but isn’t it funny that one would be upset about someone else eating or “stuffing their faces” during a particular time of day and year?

    plus you don’t need to pitty the iraqis. those who have suffered will have great sins forgiven on the day of judgement. allah wills the test which are currently befalling them.

  5. “plus you don’t need to pitty the iraqis. those who have suffered will have great sins forgiven on the day of judgement. allah wills the test which are currently befalling them.

    This is why your a troll and I seriously hope you get banned. You keep getting made to look silly.

    Get your head out of the sand, and show some respect to people that are dying all around the world thanks to oppression. And let me just say pal, whether you believe in a God or not, Justice will definitly be served, not a single innocent Iraqi blood will be forgot. Even those innocents that died in Norway massacre, because of the hatred bigots like you spew, not even that will go unpunished.

    “Are Muslims soldiers stationed in non-Muslim countries required to adhere to the religious customs of Jews, Hindus or Christians?”

    Yes they do, for Jews/Hindu’s. Take a look at China for example.

    Also a Christian country doesn’t exist, it’s called Secularism.

  6. perseverance,

    how do i “keep getting made to look silly”? do you not agree with the author of

    as for “Get your head out of the sand, and show some respect to people that are dying all around the world thanks to oppression.” what is it you want me to do. if i show what you would term as “respect” does that mean their suffering will stop? you want me to prostrate myself five times a day. will that save them? can i commad the angels from the battle of badr? “hatred bigots like you spew” what have i spewed? you’re the one who said that blowing up people is justified. i noticed you didn’t include the 9/11 victims in those who will have justice? are they not “innocent”. how about the somalis, the nigerians, the pakistanis, the indonesians, the iranians who are all dying in islamic countries. you are right iraqis and afganhs are dying. but why. once the regimes fell (sadam & taliban), all they had to do was cooperate with the invaders and they would already have a better nation then they had before 9/11. see germany and japan post ww2. perhaps they felt “disrespected” and thought it better to blow themselves and others up! that’s the kind of strong thinking coming out of the islamic world that let’s us all sleep well at night.

    if reason and logic in this life are to be punished in the next life, then i guess a great fire awaits me, oh well. you’re right i don’t believe in a god that puts you on earth for 50 to 100 years and condemns you to an eternity of hell, or tortures you as a test, or as a punishment for a crime, or gives your daughter an illness to test you, or who sends the angel of death to kill your first born, or floods the earth, etc, etc. i guess i’m being silly.

  7. Perseveranze,

    Not once has Mike condoned any violence within anything he has written. In fact he speaks against religion because he sees it as a casual factor in most violence. He does not agree in stoning, nor does he think that world is some type of religious test. He simply points out that, according to him, religion causes more problems than it helps. He is not for stoning, cutting people’s hands off, shunning, bombing or whatever a religion may impose on its followers or other people. He seems to support equal rights for everyone and a supporter of our Bill of Rights. I understand what he is saying even though he made it clear to me that he thinks my belief in Christianity is as misguided as your belief in Islam. I think that he simply believes that most people do not recognize the tenants of the faith in which they are following and there is a lot of cherry picking in religion, but that same cherry picking also allows for a lot of abuse within it.

    There is no need for him to be banned, what is needed is for people to write clearly and explain to him how he may be misinterpreting readings or messages from the Koran or maybe the Bible. In short a dialog, which these various articles can support. His mind may never change but it will allow people, mike included, to review their belief systems and make refinements in areas that may not be totally understood or basically misunderstood. It will also allow us to better understand each other in the course of the writings. I am here because I have some issues with Islam and some of its followers. The nature of the articles and comments made to them help me get a feel of what others are thinking. To what end? maybe none, then again one never knows how your life, knowledge, or beliefs will affect others. I like Mike, and I like others whom I do not see commenting any more. I did not always like what they said but I liked the fact they were willing to say them and put themselves out there for scrutiny, ridicule, or agreement.

  8. ccc (that’s you crazy christian criley),

    don’t go too hard on poor perseveranze. i think he might be from a culture where they place a high importance on being “respected”. i can be a bit of a smartass. i think he’s saudi, so i would image there isn’t a whole lot of disent when it comes to islam?

    i agree with everything you say, except “religion because he sees it as a casual factor in most violence”. no not casual. a very overriding factor in major conflicts. in fact i would put it second to only nationalism, and gaining quickly. and i think that muslims having lost to isreal 3 times, are quick to send out a battle cry when they see another muslim country invaded. what ever the reason for the invasion, well if it’s non-muslims invading. also those defeats have shown them they can’t win a conventional war, so terror and insurgency are their new tactics. plus since the soviet defeat in afghanistan they feel emboldened. but ofcouse they won’t rally physically to the palestinian cause because they know the jews won’t show them any mercy. they think the west is week, and they are right to some degree. we no longer have the stomach for long term commitment, or to be aggressive enough to get the job done quickly. they feel if they can just persevere allah will deliver a victory. who knows, only time will tell.

  9. I agree about our weakness: I seems that since WWII and Korea, the United States has been very reluctant to fight a war of attrition. It is impossible to fight a war while attempting to win hearts and minds and it is impossible to win a war if constantly worried about civilian casualties. I do not want to see anyone die, but we in the United States need to stay out of wars if we are not willing to commit ourselves fully to the conflict.

  10. One thing that has impressed about the moderators of this site is their willingness to allowed contrary opinions. So far none of my posts have been deleted. I also agree about the foolishness of trying to win the “hearts and minds” of people who’s culture and religion appear to make then forever hostile to Western thought and ideals.Probably fewer lives would have been lost had the West crushed Islamic fanatics mercilessly. That strategy during WW2 resulted in Germany and Japan becoming prosperous allies rather then enemies of the US. What better example of the futility of appealing to “hearts and minds” then Afghanistan where Muslims rioted and killed over the burning of a single privately owned Koran in America.There are literally millions of Korans on the planet yet the lives that were taken by Muslims in those riots can never be replaced.After 10 years of appealing to “hearts and minds” do the Muslims of Afghanistan really not understand that?

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