ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) — About 300 people in a restive northern region of Algeria joined a public lunch Saturday during Ramadan to protest what they say is persecution of people who refuse to observe the religious fast.
The protest lunch was highly unusual for North Africa, where people can be arrested for not fasting during the Muslim holy month.
It was held as a demonstration against the decision of security forces to question three young people who were eating outside last week last week in the Kabylie region during the 18-hour daily fasting period.
"We called this gathering to denounce the inquisition and persecution of citizens who, because of their beliefs, refuse to observe the fast," said Bouaziz Ait Chebib, head of the local Kabylie Autonomy Movement.
The Berbers of the Kabylie are known for a more secular outlook in general than Algeria's majority Arabs, and they have had a historically tense relationship with Algeria's government.
In previous years, Kabylie residents who refused to fast during the month of Ramadan faced charges of "acting against Islam."
The lunch in Tizi-Ouzou, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) from Algiers, was not contested by either local Islamists or authorities.
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The freezing and near-freezing rain that swooped into Central Texas overnight prompted numerous school closings and delays and made for a harrowing morning commute on Friday.
A man is charged with murder in the shooting death Wednesday of a woman at a North Austin auto repair shop, police said Friday.
A man is expected to survive after being stabbed in the head at the Salvation Army shelter in Downtown Austin at about 3:45 a.m. Friday.
It's the first criminal charge following a yearlong criminal investigation into the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas.
With freezing temperatures pushing through the region, heating systems will likely be working overtime, which can bring rising energy bills.
Investigators are looking into an overnight fire that left one woman with third-degree burns.