By Ramadan A. Kader
Street charity banquets are a hallmark of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in Egypt. The charity, called Mawaed Al Rahman (the Tables of Almighty) is offered to the poor and people who cannot be at home for the sunset Iftar meal. Some benefactors have recently developed the habit of handing out food boxes to pedes.
As economic woes bite, the tradition is becoming crucial and a lifeline for many. A lawyer has gone to court, requesting the tradition to be a year-long event, according to Egyptian media.
In an Egyptian precedent, the lawyer, identified as Khaled Fouad, has demanded the government to offer three meals daily to each poor citizen. In his lawsuit at the Administrative Court, he seeks a judicial ruling obliging the government to define the areas where the proposed free meals would be provided.
The suit was filed after the government reportedly turned down the proposal, which took the shape of a notice.
In his legal battle, Fouad cites an article in the Egyptian constitution, which reads: “Every citizen has the right to healthy and sufficient food, as well as clean water. The state is committed to guaranteeing food resources to all citizens.”
Some 27.8 per cent of Egypt’s 95 million people live below the poverty line, according to 2015 official statistics. The figure is believed to have risen as a result of soaring living costs unleashed by the 2016 floatation of the Egyptian pound and cuts in state subsidy adopted as part of harsh economic reforms.
The aim of Fouad’s suit is to extend Mawaed Al Rahman throughout the year. There has been no comment yet from the government, which is struggling to tighten its finances and curb the budget deficit.