“For me, it’s an act of intimate introspection, a moment of making resolutions to be a better person,” he explains. El PeriodicoSaber Leg-Hop, 25, has been fasting since the age of 15 “out of a firm belief and faith”. Lech-Hop says he was ready to fast Ramadan at age 9 or 10, but his parents wouldn’t let him. The young man mentions that he observes the five daily prayers during this holy month and prays at the mosque every evening if his schedule permits. This is what most young people born or raised in Catalonia do.
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But there are young people who don’t fast because they don’t like it or don’t believe in it. “Whether to do Ramzan or not is a personal decision. I have friends with Muslim parents who don’t and nothing ever happens. And I have friends who carry on their family’s faith,” continues Leg-Hop. Other youngsters also practice it out of duty. “Many young people in Catalonia are forced to observe Ramadan against their will,” laments Sugaina Fares, 30, a Moroccan teenager and anti-racism activist. “At first, I did it like that. But over the years I began to doubt it, and my parents began to notice and control me,” Fares said.
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The young woman said that during Ramadan when she was in high school, her friends “asked their parents for another sandwich or something big for me to eat. They locked me in the bathroom or the library to eat and drink water. “It’s a double whammy because you can’t do it in public: in every neighborhood, in every community, there’s a kind of morality police who find out about it even if your parents aren’t looking. They are like 24-hour CCTV cameras,” he complains, adding that many youths are going through the same situation as him, and no doubt some are going through it even today.
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For Fares, the situation was so complicated that she left home at the age of 16. “The problem is that you don’t become a Muslim: you inherit it,” he insists. “You can’t have students in class who don’t eat, drink, are tired or absent on those days,” says activist Mimut Hamido. Lech-Hop shares this view and argues that no family should force their children to conform to this religious tradition. According to data from the Islamic Commission, the Muslim community in Catalonia is the largest in Spain with 500,000 people.