DUBAI – An article by an English-speaking magazine in Dubai about bars offering alcohol during the holy fasting month of Ramadan has sparked fury among Muslims in the United Arab Emirates.
The article showed "how some people who (live) here have no respect to the culture and the people at all," a Twitter user wrote, CNN reported.
Another user wrote that his culture was being "perverted by alcoholics".
The Timeout Dubai magazine has published an article about bars that remain open during Ramadan.
Headlined “5 to try: bars in Ramadan”, the article gave the hours of operation of these bars during the fasting month and shared the link on the social network Twitter.
"Have they lost their marbles?” asked Mahra Al Shamsi, an Emirati English teacher living in Ras Al Khaimah, describing the article as “shocking”.
“Do they not remember that, even though this magazine is targeted for expats, they are living in the United Arab Emirates -- an Arab country with very strong Islamic values and beliefs."
Ramadan is the holiest month in Islamic calendar.
In Ramadan, adult Muslims, save the sick and those traveling, abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex between dawn and sunset.
Muslims dedicate their time during the holy month to be closer to Allah through prayers, self-restraint and good deeds.
It is customary for Muslims to spend part of the days during Ramadan studying the Noble Qur'an.
Many men perform i`tikaf (spiritual retreat), spending the last 10 days of the month exclusively in the mosque.
Islam forbids Muslims from drinking or even selling alcohol.
The general rule in Islam is that any beverage that get people intoxicated when taken is unlawful, both in small and large quantities, whether it is alcohol, drugs, fermented raisin drink or something else.
But some foreigners see the angry response to the article as a “huge overreaction”.
"We are in one of the few countries in the world where you have to curtail your behavior whether you're participating in Ramadan or not, out of respect," Fiona Du Vivier, a Scottish account manager, told CNN.
"Which is fair enough, I chose to live in this country and I choose to respectfully follow its customs," said Du Vivier, who has lived in Dubai for nearly two years.
She argued that large proportion of the population in Dubai is foreigners, who do not fast during Ramadan.
“The article was merely pointing to a facility that's available for non-fasting Muslims and non-Muslims,” she said.
“When it was pointed out it could be taken as disrespectful, they took it down and apologized."
Following the fury, the magazine apologized, saying the article was an “error of judgment on our part”.
It also removed the article from the site, saying it respected “local culture and traditions”.
But Al Shamsi, the Emirati English teacher, is still upset because the article linked between alcohol and Ramadan.
"The disrespectful bit comes in when they rub it in your face,” she said.
“This is like going to a poor country and writing an article about luxury ... It's not appropriate."