CEMB organised fast-defying protests by staging picnics outside the embassies of countries that prosecute people for eating outdoors during the fasting hours of Ramadan.

Fast-defying picnics were first started by feminist activist Ibtaissame Betty Lachgar and her organisation MALI in Muhammadiya Morocco in 2009. They were met with severe backlash, greeted by at least 100 police officers, media people, and a mob of Islamists ended up threatened and then dispersed by the police, sighting their safety.

Betty was visiting London, and as it happened to be in Ramadan, we at CEMB thought it was a good idea to do the same in London this year, identifying Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Morocco as the embassies to protest outside.

The action started outside the Pakistani High Commission, and we were quickly approached by the staff who asked what were we doing there; our spokesperson Maryam Namazie explained the reason we were eating and drinking, and even invited the staff to come join us. Needless to say, they weren’t too pleased to see us there and shared some disgruntled looks, and kept an eye on us, peeking through the windows.

We then moved on to the Iranian embassy. There were already two police officers stationed outside who enquired about what we were doing. Upon explaining, they let us be and we moved on to the Saudi Embassy shortly after.

It was at the Saudi Embassy that we had the most interesting time. We were approached by two armed officers immediately, and once again explained that “we were celebrating Ramadan”.
The officers at first seemed to have no issues as long as we didn’t block the entrance, but they did ask us to move away from the embassy which we refused to do.

However, upon seeing us having drinks, the armed police officers approached us again and one of them continued to ask us “As a Muslim”, stating his confusion “Why were we drinking alcohol if it was for Ramadan” to which our spokesperson Ali Malik replied “We’re not Muslim. You’re free to be a Muslim the same way we are free to drink.”. The officer wasn’t too pleased about our presence and radioed his colleagues. Shortly after, a police van arrived. The armed officers had a chat with the officers in the van and the van left without approaching us, presumably as they knew we weren’t doing anything illegal. The armed police officer was also seen googling the rules on public drinking, and was constantly eavesdropping on us cutting us mid-conversation a couple of times. The air was intimidatory.













We then continued to the Moroccan Embassy where there were no issues at all, our action concluding at around 18:00.

Our experience at the Saudi embassy, however, forces us to ask some questions of the Met Police:

Do your armed officers make it a habit of bringing their religion up when on duty?

Why were the officers googling? We’re they looking to entrap us? Do they not know the law already?

Why were the armed officers staying so close to us (barely a meter away) for an extended period of time?

And what business did they have overhearing our conversations?

We await their reply.