China bans Ramadan: Fasting and ‘taking part in religious activities’ forbidden in controversial crackdown on minority Uighur Muslims
Chinese authorities across the country’s restive northwest region of Xinjiang have banned Muslim students and civil servants from taking part in all “religious activities” during the holy month of Ramadan.
In a region where around 45 per cent of the population is Muslim, a series of notices issued by schools and government departments have “strictly forbidden” anyone from taking part in fasting, and some have even been banned from performing their daily prayers in mosques.
Notices said the bans were designed to prevent the use of schools and government offices to “promote religion”, while local political organisations have been reminded of the ruling party’s officially atheist stance.
But the decision to ban Ramadan is particularly controversial for Xinjiang, coming amid an extensive security crackdown on the minority Uighur Muslim population.
Authorities have blamed separatist Uighurs for a string of recent terror attacks on civilian crowds and government institutions, but the group denies involvement and activists have accused Beijing of exaggerating the threat as an excuse to impose restrictions.
On Tuesday, authorities in some communities in Xinjiang held celebrations of the anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party and provided free food as a test of whether Muslim guests were fasting, according to Dilxat Raxit, a Germany-based spokesman for the rights group World Uyghur Congress.
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