Muslim farmhands toiling in Italian fields during Ramadan will not break Islamic law if they have the occasional sip of water, one of Italy's top imams said on Tuesday.

Speaking ahead of the month-long Islamic fast, expected to start on Wednesday, Imam Ahmad al Sakka of the Rome Mosque sought to head off polemics over the conditions of farmhands working long hours in torrid heat.

During Ramadan, Muslims are strictly prohibited from eating or drinking anything, including water, between dawn and dusk but exceptions are permitted in certain situations.

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