Sell alcohol, cigarettes or face closure: China tells Uyghur shopkeepers

Published: May 5, 2015
This photo taken on April 16, 2015 shows Uighur men praying in a mosque in Hotan, in China's western Xinjiang region. PHOTO: AFP

This photo taken on April 16, 2015 shows Uighur men praying in a mosque in Hotan, in China's western Xinjiang region. PHOTO: AFP

In an apparent attempt to check growing influence of religion on local residents, Chinese authorities in Xinjiang province have ordered Uighur Muslim shopkeepers to sell alcohol and cigarettes or be ready to face closure and legal action.

In a statement issued last week, authorities in Laskuy Township of Xinjiang region asked shopkeepers to not only to sell five different brands alcohol and cigarettes but also ordered them to display them in an ‘eye catching manner’.

“All restaurants and supermarkets in our village should place five different brands of alcohol and cigarettes in their shops before [May 1, 2015],” read the statement, warning that people failed to comply with the instruction would face legal action beside shops being sealed.

The notice, which was signed by the Aktash village Party Committee of Laskuy Township, stated that the order had come from the top echelons of ruling Communist Party, aimed at providing greater convenience to the public.

Communist party official in Aktash village Adil Sulayman said that the new policy was part of an effort to undermine the influence of Islam in the area.

Claiming that since 2012 people in the region have stopped selling alcohol and cigarettes through their businesses due to public scorn, Sulayman revealed “We have a campaign to weaken religion here and this is part of that campaign.”

Pointing out at the widespread abstention from smoking and drinking, the official claimed that 70-80 per cent of people aged 16-45 are refraining from these acts, considering them as ‘taboo’.

In Xinjiang region, where China has launched ‘strike hard’ campaign in the name of fighting extremism, authorities view non-smoking Muslim Uighurs as adhering to “a form of religious extremism.”

Sulayman added that around 60 shops and restaurants in the area had complied with the government instruction, and there were no reports of protests.

Rights groups accuse Chinese authorities of religious repression against Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang in the name of counter terrorism.

Read: Chinese imams forced to dance in Xinjiang region

Last month, China forced imams in Xinjiang region to dance in the street and swear to an oath that they would not teach religion to children.

Similarly, the northern Xinjiang city of Karamay prohibited young men with beards and women in burqas or hijabs from boarding public buses.

Read: China restricts Ramazan fasting in Xinjiang

China had also banned Muslim students and government staff from observing fasts in the month of Ramadan.

This article originally appeared in Radio Free Asia

Facebook Conversations

Reader Comments (22)

  • Hmm
    May 6, 2015 - 12:54AM

    Great Chinese leadership . While world suffers from Islamic menace, China can face it by communism. Great !!!Recommend

  • woody
    May 6, 2015 - 1:10AM

    China had also banned Muslim students and government staff from observing fasts in the month of Ramadan.
    I wonder what would happen if the USA tried that? Suspect their would be riots in the street and the USA Embassy would be under siege. Recommend

  • Woz Ahmed
    May 6, 2015 - 2:10AM


    We can’t protest, as we have already sold our soul.Recommend

  • ajeet
    May 6, 2015 - 2:30AM

    Iron brother is great. He has caught them by the balls.Recommend

  • raja
    May 6, 2015 - 2:41AM

    long live pakistan – china friendshipRecommend

  • Beet Neeka
    May 6, 2015 - 2:45AM

    Gen Hamid Gul, Amir Ul Jumat Islami & Maulana Fazal rehman should respond or the narrative will go to Taliban, Daesh, Alqaeeda. Why these are mard mimneen silent?Recommend

  • May 6, 2015 - 3:06AM

    Palestine might be far away but near to the hearts of Pakistanis. Uighur may be nearer, but no place for them in Pakistani hearts. Reason? Money? Power? Influence? Weapons?

    China, the biggest and must visible practitioner of Islamophobia, and Pakistan, Islam’s leading light, best friends.

    Alas, even with an Islamic bomb, Pakistan can’t do much to protect Muslims in its own backyard. Whats the use of all those missiles?Recommend

  • ModiFied
    May 6, 2015 - 3:42AM

    Let us hear what Hafiz Saeed and rest of the Islamic brigade has to say. I am sure they have no guts when it comes to China. China has Pakistan’s free pass to do anything with Muslims. This shows how superficial the idea of Islamic brotherhood is?Recommend

  • rama
    May 6, 2015 - 6:26AM

    Are you thinking that Pakistan is protector Muslim in the world. . It is another country in the globe with majority Muslim . Mind the limitation and act accordingly. Recommend

  • Rana
    May 6, 2015 - 6:41AM

    Our corrupt politicians have taken us to a state where We Pakistanis value Chinese investments more than their atrocities on our religion… Our entire country and people start wagging their tail like dogs when Chinese announce some investment…. CHINA IS NO FRIEND OF PAKISTAN… How can we be friends, when they don’t even like our religion, our beards, our roza, Ramadan?? India is bete than China, Muslims there are progressing if they want… Indian Muslims have become presidents of India, Vice president, justice, Election commissioner,polpulat film stars and singers… Indian public even respects Pakistani artists with love and patronage.. But here we are Pakistanis, teaching a hate against India and Hindus from our primary schools… We around be more rational but I know Chinese money has sealed our lips…. Recommend

  • someone
    May 6, 2015 - 8:27AM

    Since NS does not have strength to bring it up the plight of Muslims in China to his Iron brother, may be Pakistani should request Mr. Modi on twitter to mention it to Xi Jinping during his visit to China.Recommend

  • leela4fun
    May 6, 2015 - 10:08AM

    What happens in Xinjiang today will be the fate of Pakistan tomorrow. The Iron Brother will pretty soon show his iron knuckles as the Islamic Republic of Pakistan will be relegated to the depths of the Indian Ocean and her people left high and dry than the tallest Himalayan mountains with the bitterest taste in their mouths for their servitude.

    Meanwhile, please enjoy the empty sloganeering and wishful thinking of how the Chinese will be throwing you a lifeline.Recommend

  • Feroz
    May 6, 2015 - 10:36AM

    All weather friend loves Pakistan and Muslims, whatever it does is in Pakistani interests. Selling alcohol and cigarettes is allowed, tomorrow Ham and Sausages also they must sell — do we not know Chinese cannot live without pork. India very bad, China very good !Recommend

  • Feroz
    May 6, 2015 - 10:58AM

    PM Nawaz must immediately call PM Modi and tell him to take up this matter with the Chinese when he visits Beijing this week. Recommend

  • Jamshed
    May 6, 2015 - 11:00AM


    Sweeter than Honey Deeper than Oceans,

    But Tastes BitterRecommend

  • jagmohan
    May 6, 2015 - 12:09PM

    It is a diplomatic matter that Pakistan may keep silence for actions and Muslims in China.
    That China is a sovereign and powerful country,hardly one can interfere with its domestic
    policies.There will be no effect in China even if all orthodox and fundamentalist parties/persons
    may make noise/agitation.,And practical wisdom may suggest they may remain silent too.
    Silence is the best course for better relations and peace. Recommend

  • ZAK
    May 6, 2015 - 1:38PM

    China has Communist Government.They do not allow religious activities openly.
    Same religious sanctions were there in USSR.

    By imposing undue sanctions you cannot convert a Muslim to Communism.

    However being resident of a Communist country they are forced to abide by law of GovtRecommend

  • Stranger
    May 6, 2015 - 2:21PM

    Whats the confusion ? My house my rules your house your rules .Recommend

  • ABKhan
    May 7, 2015 - 11:31AM

    So somehow not smoking is kind of religious extremism. The whole world is discouraging Cigarette sells and China is promoting themRecommend

  • Ck
    May 7, 2015 - 12:06PM

    Wow !! That is unbelievable !! How can a Government tell Muslims to sell alcohol? VERY VERY surprising that there is not a whisper from Pak Govt and the religious fanatics of Pakistan. Can someone explain?Recommend

  • Bewildered
    May 7, 2015 - 3:21PM

    Indian hypocrites, criticizing China for not allowing Muslims to follow the tenets of Islam, while they fully supported the French actions of banning Hijab and long skirts. They also completely forget that Muslims in India are not allowed to sacrifice cows or buffaloes even on Eid, and would be sent to jail for 5 years if found possessing their meat. The story is taken from Radio Free Asia, a known hostile organization to Chinese government. Further, it all happened, if happened, in one rural council for which you cannot blame the whole Chinese nation. Can we blame whole Pakistan for some odd judgments of our rural Panchayats.Recommend

  • JSM
    May 8, 2015 - 12:43AM

    India is enemy of Islam- so it will not permit sacrifice of cows in India. Will pork sale be permitted in Pakistan on any occasion?
    All this is hilarious. A big joke.Recommend

More in World