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The Mideast

Saudi authorities warn non-Muslims to respect Ramadan

Saudi authorities are warning non-Muslim expatriates against eating, drinking or smoking in public during Ramadan, the monthlong sunrise-to-sunset fast -- or face expulsion.

The Interior Ministry of the oil-rich kingdom is calling on non-Muslims to "show consideration for feelings of Muslims" and "preserve the sacred Islamic rituals."

Otherwise, a statement says, Saudi authorities will cancel violators' work contracts and expel them.

The warning came on Friday, the first day of the Ramadan observance.

In addition to Saudi Arabia's 19 million citizens, there are nearly 8 million Asian workers in the country, as well as hundreds of thousands of other foreign expatriates from around the globe, according to government figures.

Saudi Arabia, the ultraconservative Sunni kingdom, is the home of Islam's holiest sites. It enforces a strict interpretation of the religion.