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300 join rare public lunch to protest mandatory Ramadan fast in Algeria

About 300 people in a restive northern region of Algeria have joined a public lunch during Ramadan to protest what they say is persecution of people who refuse to observe the religious fast.

Saturday's protest lunch was highly unusual for North Africa, where fasting during the Muslim holy month is effectively legally required.

It was held to protest 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.

The lunch in Tizi-Ouzou, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) from Algiers, was not contested by either local Islamists or authorities.

In previous years, residents in the largely secular region of Kabylie who refused to fast during the month of Ramadan faced charges of "acting against Islam."