ABU DHABI //Traffic police are intensifying patrols at mosques across the city in an effort to curb motorists who are parking illegally.
The problem is particularly bad in the evening when worshippers perform their Taraweeh prayers. In a hurry to arrive at the mosque, some block legally parked vehicles as well as access to entries and exits.
Col Mohammed Al Ameri, the head of the capital's traffic department, called on all drivers to reflect the values of Ramadan, which include tolerance and patience, in their driving habits.
"Motorists should always abide by the traffic law," he said. "That includes following the speed limits, wearing a seat belt and not using a phone while driving."
Such overcrowding of car parks prevents fire engines, ambulances and rescue teams from getting through in an emergency, Col Al Ameri added.
According to the traffic law, motorists who double-park behind vehicles and block them are subject to a Dh300 fine and possible vehicle impoundment, while those who stop their vehicles in a manner that poses danger or blocks traffic are subject to a Dh200 fine and three black points. The fine for those who park illegally in a Mawaqif managed zone is Dh500 and vehicles can also be impounded.
Sheikh Hisham Yahya Khalifa, a senior preacher at Awqaf, the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowment, said abiding by traffic laws is a legal as well as a religious duty. "The traffic laws and regulations match the goals advocated by religious tenets and the basics of Sharia," he said. "Clerks and religious scholars unanimously agree that traffic laws must be observed."
From a religious point of view, parking in a manner that threatens road safety and blocks access to law abiders infringes on the rights of others and is not permitted.
It was strange, he said, that accidents increased during Ramadan because people sped to make it to iftar, at a time when one should demonstrate calmness.
"Instead of being five minutes late, you may end up being hours or days late," he said. "And you may lose all the rewards of fasting. The reward goes to those who truly hold the values of fasting in their heart."