China trying to stop Muslims observing holy month.Uyghur people of northwest Xinjiang province caught fasting ‘will be dealt with,’ as officials try to stamp out Islam.
An official government notice stated that the region has adopted many measures to “ensure social peace and harmony,” including ordering all restaurants to remain open for Ramadan, the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) website reported.
An official from the Zawa township, speaking on condition of anonymity, was quoted as saying that teachers, public servants and employees in the service sector are “not allowed to fast” during Ramadan.
“It is strictly prohibited and if they are found fasting during this period, they will be dealt with,” he said.
Communist China has tried for decades to replace religious observance with allegiance to the party, particularly among the Uyghur people, most of whom are Muslim, and who live in the Xinjiang province of northwest China.
A notice issued by the Industrial and Commercial Bureau of Aksu (in Chinese, Akesu) prefecture’s Bay (Baicheng) county in the region said the move was to ensure “stability maintenance”.
All restaurants have been ordered to remain open and communist party activists have been ordered by the Industrial and Commercial Bureau of Aksu to do 24-hour guard shifts in public buildings in the Xinjiang province, which is populated mainly by the predominantly Muslim Uyghur people. The Muslim Uyghur make up 8 million of the 19 million people within the province.
Separately, in neighbouring Hotan (Hetian) county, students have been told they must gather on Fridays to “collectively study, watch red (communist) films, and conduct sports activities” to “enrich their social life during the summer vacation”.
Friday is Islam’s holy day and many customarily start the day at the mosque. In addition, many Muslims will have little energy to take part in sports while they are fasting.
Each year, the authorities’ attempt to ban fasting among Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang receives widespread criticism from rights groups.
In March it banned burqas and “abnormal” beards, and a month later banned Islamic baby names.
Earlier this month it was revealed that police in the region had purchased $8.7m (£6.7m) worth of equipment to analyse DNA from its citizens.
Last year, Uyghurs reported that officials were asking for DNA samples, fingerprints and voice records when they applied for a passport or to go abroad.