An Emirati lawyer has warned residents in the UAE that saying a common phrase during Ramadan could result in them being put behind bars for up to seven years.
Youssef al-Sharif told local newspaper Emarat al-Youm on Tuesday that saying “don’t make me break my fast on you” could lead to prison time as it could be considered a criminal threat.
“For some people, the change in daily habits while fasting makes them harsh when challenging others. They are liable to argue and use provocative language,” Sharif was quoted as saying.
“Lot of people say ‘don’t make me break my fast on you’… without knowing the possible legal ramifications,”
The commonly used phrase (in Arabic: la takhaleeni aftar aleek) is used as a warning or a joke during Ramadan.
During the holy month, Muslims try to abstain from cursing and aggression while also not eating and drinking during daylight hours.
Sharif said that fasting makes some people “lose control of their emotions and lash out at others verbally” – actions that invalidate a person’s fast.
He warned that courts in the UAE have recently put people on trial for making verbal threats.
“One case saw a man from a non-Gulf country charged for threatening a bank teller after he told him to wait his turn. The man told the teller: ‘you are uneducated and you don’t know who are you dealing with,'” Sharif explained.
Despite attempting to paint itself as a hip tourist location and “land of tolerance”, the UAE has repeatedly come under fire from human rights groups for its harsh laws.
Hardly a week goes by without news emerging of a bizarre or politically-motivated arrest in the oil-rich Gulf country.
Recent examples include a British man arrested for wearing a Qatar football jersey or a man jailed for three-months for accidentally touching another man in a bar.