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Saudi Arabia to foreigners: Abide Muslim Ramadan rules, or face punishment

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Saudi Arabia has issued a warning to all foreigners and tourists who are in the country during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan: Abide all fasting rules, or else face punishment. The dictate applies to even those of different faiths.

"Those who are caught will be examined and will face legal action commensurate with their violation," interior ministry officials said, United Press International reported. "Punishment could be a prison term, or lashes, or both while foreigners could, in addition, be deported from the kindgon."

Ramadan calls for Muslims to fast — abstain from all food, drink and smoking in public — in the period between sunrise and sunset. The holy month begins Wednesday.

Government officials will be out in full force, combing the streets for violators. UPI said the ministry asked that the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice be on high alert, walking the streets and ensuring all are complying.

"This decision applies to all people, regardless of whether they are Muslims or not, and are in line with the regulations of Saudi Arabia that strictly ban public violations of Ramadan ethics and encourage genuine considerations for the feelings of Muslims during this auspicious month," government officials said in the UPI report.

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