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In contrast, restaurants serving alcohol operate normally in Lebanon, with its large Christian minority.

And then there are the places where authorities take action.

In West Bank areas under the Palestinian self-rule government, police have detained 10 people for violating the fast in public, said police spokesman Mansour Khazamiyeh. Violators are generally jailed until Ramadan’s end. It’s also an offense in the Gaza Strip, ruled by Palestinian Islamic group Hamas, but police spokesman Ayman Batniji said nobody has been arrested yet.

Egyptian Islamic clerics issued a religious ruling demanding that the government ban public eating in Ramadan, even for the 10 percent Christian minority. Similar requests were made in the past before the Muslim Brotherhood’s rise to power in Egypt this year, but so far the Arab world’s most populous country doesn’t enforce the fast.

Anyway, the biggest punishment for some is the guilt.

Abdul-Latif, a 45-year-old Afghan shopkeeper in Kabul, said he and his buddies sneaked some cigarettes — but he didn’t feel good about it.

“It would be such a shame if my family knew,” he said. “It’s also shameful for me. When it becomes time to eat at night, everyone else enjoys it more than me. I know about my shame.”

With additional reporting by Ibrahim Barzak in Gaza, Mohammed Daraghmeh in Ramallah, Salah Sinan in Baghdad, Aya Batrawi in Cairo, Heidi Vogt and Amir Shah in Kabul, Sean Yoong in Kuala Lumpur and Ali Kotarumalos in Jakarta.