DUBAI // Filipinos are being warned through a leaflet campaign to follow the rules of Ramadan or risk fines or arrest.
The programme has been launched by the Dubai branch of Sangguniang Masang Pilipino International, or Council of the Filipino Masses.
“We’ve called our campaign ‘Oplan Bantay Pasaway sa Ramadan’ [Campaign reminding violators of Ramadan rules] because many are still unaware of the dos and don’ts during the Holy Month,” said Ibrahim Beltran, a hotel security manager and the group’s administrator.
“Ideally, we’d like to start distributing them on the first day of Ramadan.”
The council is printing 5,000 leaflets in English.
This year’s campaign will focus on Satwa, Karama and Deira, where many Filipinos live and work.
During Ramadan, eating, drinking, smoking and chewing gum in public during daylight is forbidden, out of respect for fasting Muslims. Anyone caught doing so faces a month in jail or a fine of up to Dh2,000.
Modesty in public is expected and entertainment activities, celebrations or parties are not permitted in the Holy Month.
The group ran a similar campaign in Satwa last Ramadan, issuing verbal warnings to Filipinos. “Most were ignorant of the country’s laws and customs,” Mr Beltran said.
The group found people smoking, chewing gum and drinking water in public, while women wore immodest clothes such as tight trousers, very short shorts, mini-skirts and low-cut tops.
“When I told a Filipina that she shouldn’t be wearing very short shorts and a sleeveless blouse, she said she didn’t know there was such a rule,” Mr Beltran said. “She even asked me, ‘since when was this rule in place?'”
Leaflets will also be distributed from the Philippine consulate in Al Ghusais.
The group has no plans to hand out pamphlets to Abu Dhabi and the other Emirates but it will ask Filipino community leaders to help in the distribution.
Zeehan Pendaliday, a nurse and the group’s community services director, said it will adopt a casual rather than stern approach.
“We’ll remind them about being sensitive to the local culture,” Ms Pendaliday said. “They are expected to dress modestly not only during Ramadan, but all the time while in the UAE.”