China restricts Ramazan fasting in Xinjiang

Published July 2, 2014
A Chinese paramilitary policeman watches two Uighurs pass the Grand Bazaar in China’s Xinjiang province. — Photo by AFP
A Chinese paramilitary policeman watches two Uighurs pass the Grand Bazaar in China’s Xinjiang province. — Photo by AFP

BEIJING: China has banned civil servants, students and teachers in its mainly Muslim Xinjiang region from taking part in Ramazan fasting, government websites said, prompting condemnation from an exile group on Wednesday.

China's ruling Communist party is officially atheist, and for years has restricted fasting in Xinjiang, home to the mostly Muslim Uighur minority.

Xinjiang sees regular and often deadly clashes between Uighurs and state security forces, and Beijing has blamed recent deadly attacks elsewhere in China on militants seeking independence for the resource-rich region.

Rights groups blame tensions on religious and cultural restrictions placed on Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in the vast area, which abuts Central Asia.

Several government departments posted notices on their websites in recent days banning fasting during Ramazan, which began this weekend. During the holy month, the faithful fast from dawn to dusk and strive to be more pious.

The commercial affairs bureau of Turfan city said on its website Monday that “civil servants and students cannot take part in fasting and other religious activities”.

The state-run Bozhou Radio and TV university said on its website that it would “enforce the ban on party members, teachers, and young people from taking part in Ramazan activities”.

“We remind everyone that they are not permitted to observe a Ramazan fast,“ it added.

A weather bureau in Qaraqash county in western Xinjiang said on its website that “in accordance with instructions from higher authorities”, it “calls on all current and retired staff not to fast during Ramazan”.

A state office which manages the Tarim River basin posted pictures of its staff wearing traditional Uighur “doppa” caps tucking into a group meal on Saturday.

“Although the meal coincided with the Muslim festival of Ramazan, the cadres who took part expressed a positive attitude and will lead the non-fasting,” it said.

China has in the past said that restrictions on fasting are meant to ensure the health of government employees.

Dilxat Raxit, a spokesman for the exiled World Uyghur Congress, cited local sources as saying that authorities encouraged Uighurs to eat free meals on Monday, and inspected homes to check if the fast was being observed.

“China taking these kinds of coercive measures, restricting the faith of Uighurs, will create more conflict,” he said.

“We call on China to ensure religious freedom for Uighurs and stop political repression of Ramadan. "

Opinion

Crisis looming
Updated 21 Oct 2021

Crisis looming

It will be a terrible mistake for the PM, his acolytes to underestimate the strength of the wave that is about to hit them.
An eye-opener
21 Oct 2021

An eye-opener

A daring report by Indian savants could have been written here.
Past, present, forever
Updated 20 Oct 2021

Past, present, forever

Despite their close relationship, this is hardly the first time the PTI and the military have not been BFFs.

Editorial

21 Oct 2021

Not just cricket

THE qualifying round might have already started but the first major cricket tournament since the pandemic struck...
Local governance
21 Oct 2021

Local governance

The court ruling restoring local institutions in Punjab should go a long way in ensuring the continuation of grassroots democracy.
21 Oct 2021

Breast cancer awareness

LIKE so many other issues relating to women’s health in Pakistan, breast cancer is not a subject of serious...
Opposition’s chance?
Updated 19 Oct 2021

Opposition’s chance?

What the opposition can do is take advantage of the cleavage between PTI and the establishment, perhaps widen it and leverage it.
Evading tax laws
Updated 20 Oct 2021

Evading tax laws

Challenge of tax compliance can't be dealt with without directly taxing incomes irrespective of source and punishing tax evaders.
19 Oct 2021

KCR delays

AS political and bureaucratic stakeholders drag their feet over reviving the Karachi Circular Railway, residents of...