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Farm laborers contest drinking rules

MANTUA, Italy, Aug. 13 (UPI) -- Muslim farm laborers oppose heat wave safety rules requiring they drink water while fasting for Ramadan, an Islamic spokesman said Thursday.

Ben Sansour of the Islamic community in the northern province of Mantua said if a Muslim worker is fired for refusing to drink water during the heat wave, the Islamic community will contest it.

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A decision by the Farming Safety Committee in Mantua mandates all farm workers drink while working during the summer heat wave or face suspension, the Italian news service ANSA reported.

The committee consists of representatives from Italy's two largest agricultural associations and three biggest trade unions. Muslims fast from dawn to dusk during Ramadan, which starts this year on Aug. 20.

"We made the order because we want to safeguard the health of our workers as much as possible," Roberto Cagliari, the president of the committee, said.

"There is no work contract and no legal provision requiring us to drink during Ramadan," Sansour said, adding, "If a Muslim farmhand feels unwell, he can take a break and if he then realizes that the feeling is not a passing one, he may take a drink.

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