Food for thought as shift workers forego Ramadan iftars with family

A general aerial view shows devotees gathering to eat iftar during the holy month of Ramadan, at Al-Azhar Mosque in the old Islamic area of Cairo, Egypt on May 12. (Reuters)
Updated 18 May 2019

Food for thought as shift workers forego Ramadan iftars with family

  • Rizk Ali, head of Cairo’s public transport authority, said the authority would be providing 75,000 meals a month for employees who could not get home

CAIRO: While millions of Muslims gather at home to share Ramadan iftars, for thousands of shift workers breaking their fast is not so simple.
For Hassan, head chef at one of Egypt’s famous Seekh Mashwi restaurants, working during the month of fasting is “a different kind of pleasure.”
“Despite the fatigue and exhaustion during fasting hours, God gave me the energy and patience to work in high temperatures. During Ramadan and fasting, food is in front of me, but I do not want it at all,” he said.
“I can adjust the saltiness of the meal without tasting it, just by smelling it. I have a meal with the restaurant workers after evening prayers during most of the month of Ramadan. We can only adjust our shift to eat our iftar at home once a week, but the rest of the days we are at work,” the chef added.
Fathi Shams, a baker in downtown Cairo, told Arab News: “Ramadan to us is a season. The temperature in the streets is 30 degrees, but in the bakery, it can go up to more than 60. But I must work until the fasting person has iftar, and then I can have my meal.
“The work increases massively in Ramadan, and we can never say no,” Shams added. “I go home to rest, and then I wake up to eat the suhoor meal in my house. It is the only meal I have with my family in Ramadan. After dawn prayers, I go back down to work the oven.”
Sayed Najdi, a traffic police officer from the Gamaliya district of Cairo, also finds family get-togethers during Ramadan disrupted.
“The food comes to me from the Interior Ministry every day, chicken, meat, vegetables and rice, but I definitely miss the feeling of iftar with the family,” said Najdi.
“The traffic in Ramadan is very difficult during the day, and the height of the hustle is one hour before iftar. But iftar time is simple, because most of the citizens have already arrived home and the roads are empty.”
Najdi has iftar with the family for two days during the week. “I feel happy and thankful for those two days, but when I have my iftar in the street, I feel that I am doing my duty to the people, and this is the will of God.”
Rizk Ali, head of Cairo’s public transport authority, said the authority would be providing 75,000 meals a month for employees who could not get home.
He added that the distribution of 2,500 daily meals allowed bus services to be suspended during the time of iftar.
Cairo bus driver Hassan Beshir told Arab News that he breaks his fast at the bus stop three days a week because he shares his job with another driver.
“I work during the dusk call to prayers and feel happy when I return to the bus stop without a single passenger,” he said.
“I feel happy when all the passengers are in their homes with their families.”


Trump wrote to Assad about journalist missing in Syria, says Pompeo

In this file photo taken on December 04, 2018, Marc and Debra Tice, the parents of US journalist Austin Tice (portrait L), who was abducted in Syria more than six years ago, speak at a press conference in Beirut. (AFP)
Updated 15 August 2020

Trump wrote to Assad about journalist missing in Syria, says Pompeo

  • In 2018, US authorities announced a $1 million reward for information that would lead to his recovery

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump personally wrote to his Syrian counterpart Bashar Assad about the case of journalist Austin Tice, who has been missing since 2012, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday.
“The US government has repeatedly attempted to engage Syrian officials to seek Austin’s release,” Pompeo said in a statement on the eighth anniversary of Tice’s disappearance.
“President Trump wrote to Bashar Assad in March to propose direct dialogue.”
Tice was a freelance photojournalist working for Agence France-Presse, McClatchy News, The Washington Post, CBS and other news organizations when he disappeared after being detained at a checkpoint near Damascus on Aug. 14, 2012.
Thirty-one years old at the time he was captured, Tice appeared blindfolded in the custody of an unidentified group of armed men in a video a month later.
Since then, there has been no official information on whether he is alive or dead.
In March, Trump said the United States had written a letter to authorities in Damascus, without specifying that he himself had written personally to Assad, who Washington wants out of power. At that time, Trump said he did not know if Tice was still alive.

HIGHLIGHT

Tice was a freelance photojournalist working for Agence France-Presse, McClatchy News, The Washington Post, CBS and other news organizations when he disappeared after being detained at a checkpoint near Damascus on Aug. 14, 2012.

“No one should doubt the president’s commitment to bringing home all US citizens held hostage or wrongfully detained overseas,” Pompeo said Friday.
“Nowhere is that determination stronger than in Austin Tice’s case.”
Pompeo said he and Trump hoped there would be “no need for another statement like this a year from now.”
“Austin Tice’s release and return home are long, long overdue. We will do our utmost to achieve that goal,” he added.
A year ago, the US government said it believed Tice was still alive.
His mother Debra Tice said in January that she had “credible information” to that effect, without elaborating.
In 2018, US authorities announced a $1 million reward for information that would lead to his recovery.