China restricts Ramazan fasting in Xinjiang region

China's goal in prohibiting fasting is to forcibly move Uighurs away from their Muslim culture during Ramazan


Afp June 18, 2015
Mosque in Hami, Xinjiang. PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING: China has banned civil servants, students and teachers in its mainly Muslim Xinjiang region from fasting during Ramazan and ordered restaurants to stay open, official websites showed as the holy month began on Thursday.

Most Muslims are required to fast from dawn to dusk during the month but China's ruling Communist Party is officially atheist and for years has restricted the practice in Xinjiang, home to the mostly Muslim Uighur minority.

"Food service workplaces will operate normal hours during Ramazan," said a notice posted last week on the website of the state Food and Drug Administration in Xinjiang's Jinghe county.

Officials in the region's Bole county were told: "During Ramazan do not engage in fasting, vigils or other religious activities," according to a local government website report of a meeting this week.

Uighur rights groups say China's restrictions on Islam in Xinjiang have added to ethnic tensions in the region, where clashes have killed hundreds in recent years.

China says it faces a terrorist threat in Xinjiang, with officials blaming "religious extremism" for growing violence.

"China's goal in prohibiting fasting is to forcibly move Uighurs away from their Muslim culture during Ramazan," said Dilxat Rexit, a spokesman for the exiled World Uyghur Congress.

Read:Ramazan starts Thursday in Saudi Arabia

"Policies that prohibit religious fasting are a provocation and will only lead to instability and conflict."

Going one step beyond simply discouraging government employees to forgo fasting, police and court officials in Awat county were ordered to "take the lead in teaching family members not to fast and not to participate in Ramazan-related religious activities", according to a post on China Legal Media.

As in previous years, school children were included in directives limiting Ramazan fasting and other religious observances.

The education bureau of Tarbaghatay city, known as Tacheng in Chinese, this month ordered schools to communicate to students that "during Ramazan, ethnic minority students do not fast, do not enter mosques... and do not attend religious activities".

Similar orders were posted on the websites of other Xinjiang education bureaus and schools.

Read:UK school bans students from fasting during Ramazan

Officials in the region's Qiemo county this week met with local religious leaders to inform them there would be increased inspections during Ramadan in order to "maintain social stability", the county's official website said.

Ahead of the holy month, one village in Yili, near the border with Kazakhstan, said mosques must check the identification cards of anyone who comes to pray during Ramazan, according to a notice on the government's website.

The Bole county government said that Mehmet Talip, a 90-year-old Uighur Communist Party member, had promised to avoid fasting and vowed to "not enter a mosque in order to consciously resist religious and superstitious ideas".

COMMENTS (51)

Tony | 6 years ago | Reply I'm a Chinese currently living in a west country. I was led by a friend to this report. After reading the full article, I did some research and found no clue online leading to this condemnation. I searched all the information source mentioned here. Nothing. If you've never been to China and believe all Chinese online information is controlled by BJ, I'd say it's hard to do so as China's internet coverage and usage is leading in the world. Communist Party's theory is about atheism and they do request party members to renounce any religion belief....but they are just saying, many of them are buddist or christian or muslim themselves. I found articles about civil servants, teachers and students are required not to fast and some resuaurant are encourage to keep open in this month, but still...usually this is purely bureaucracy. I also found many news and articles in local government authority website like education bureau, mainly they are about how we should treat Ramadan fast seriously and some introduction of it as it's not familiar to Han and others. Looks like they are more careful this time as all those stuff we know, however, this by no means showes any one could BAN a religious acitivity like Ramazan. Many people are questioning here....how could China do this....why...how stupid.......I would also question it? Why would China's government ban and order people not to practise some religious acitivities last hundreds even a thousand years. If it's not for fun, it must because officers eat too much for lunch. Or.....what actually happen is misrepresented to what some people like it to be. As my research ability is very limited, please provide some data source if you find clues.
Ram Dargad | 6 years ago | Reply @Ibrar: We should try understanding each others point of view. We must judge & convince each other, based on hard data & logic rather than propaganda & biased conviction. Few of us are dong this by posting appropriate comments while most are busy throwing mud at each other. So far the two countries have moved on two very different paths- thanks to the differing vision of their respective leaders. Even our common history is taught differently in our 2 countries.
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