The Chinese government has banned Muslims from fasting and is restricting their visits to mosques during Ramadan in the turbulent northwestern region of Xinjiang, as the area has been rocketed by repeated outbreaks of ethnic violence.
Ahram Xinjiang is home to around nine million Uighurs, a Turkic speaking, largely Muslim ethnic minority, many of whom accuse China’s leaders of religious and political persecution.
The region has been rocked by repeated outbreaks of ethnic violence, but China denies claims of repression and relies on tens of thousands of Uighur officials to help it govern Xinjiang.
A statement from Zonglang township in Xinjiang’s Kashgar district said that “the county committee has issued comprehensive policies on maintaining social stability during the Ramadan period.
“It is forbidden for Communist Party cadres, civil officials (including those who have retired) and students to participate in Ramadan religious activities.”
Similar orders on curbing Ramadan activities were posted on other local government websites, with the educational bureau of Wensu county urging schools to ensure that students do not enter mosques during Ramadan.
“By banning fasting during Ramadan, China is using administrative methods to force the Uighur people to eat in an effort to break the fasting,” said group spokesman Dilshat Rexit in a statement.
Xinjiang saw its worst ethnic violence in recent times in July, 2009, when Uighurs attacked members of the nation’s dominant Han ethnic group in the city of Urumqi, sparking clashes in which 200 people from both sides died, according to the government.