China is very creative in dealing with its Muslim problem. When the Uighur separatists threatened to disrupt the Beijing Olympics, China shut down their mosques for several months prior to the Games. As it is, they are required to have State-approved imams in all mosques. The Chinese government loves to ban fasting during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, often force-feeding people if they refuse to eat.
OnIslam Unlike millions of Muslims around the world, Uighur students returning for summer vacations in northwestern China are banned from fasting during the holy month of Ramadan. “They are extracting guarantees from parents, promising that their children won’t fast on Ramadan,” Dilxat Raxit, Sweden-based spokesman for the exile World Uighur Congress (WUC), told Radio Free Asia on Thursday, June 13.
Activists have also complained that Uighur students are being stripped of their mobile phones ahead of Ramadan. “After the students get back to their hometowns, those with cell phones and computers must hand them in to the police for searching,” said Raxit. “If they don’t hand them over and are reported or caught by the authorities, then they will have to bear the consequences.”
Students defying the restrictions are being reported to authorities for punishment. “They have also made groups of 10 households responsible for spying on each other, so that if a single child from one family fasts for Ramadan, or takes part in religious activities, then all 10 families will be fined,” Raxit said.
Ramadan, the holiest month in Islamic calendar, is set to start next month. In Ramadan, adult Muslims abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex between dawn and sunset. Religious officials have confirmed that Ramadan fasting is banned for Uighur Muslim students.
“The students and the teachers have to report to their schools every Friday, even during the vacation. “It’s like regular lessons,” he said, adding that the students would also be eating there.
The pre-Ramadan restrictions come ahead of the fourth anniversary of deadly Muslim riots in Xinjiang, which left nearly 200 people dead. Chinese authorities have convicted about 200 people, mostly Uighurs, over the riots and sentenced 26 of them to death.
Xinjiang has been autonomous since 1955 but continues to be the subject of massive security crackdowns by Chinese authorities. Rights groups accuse Chinese authorities of religious repression against Uighur Muslims in the name of counter terrorism. Muslims accuses the government of settling millions of ethnic Han in their territory with the ultimate goal of obliterating its identity and culture.
Analysts say the policy of transferring Han Chinese to Xinjiang to consolidate Beijing’s authority has increased the proportion of Han in the region from five percent in the 1940s to more than 40 percent now.
Beijing views the vast region of Xinjiang as an invaluable asset because of its crucial strategic location near Central Asia and its large oil and gas reserves.