Muslims in China’s Xinjiang told to ignore Ramadan customs
Officials in China’s restive western region of Xinjiang have told Muslims to ignore religious customs during the holy month of Ramadan, an indication of what rights groups say is discrimination targeting the Uighur minority group.
The fasting month follows a series of attacks around China, centred on Xinjiang, that Beijing has blamed on Islamists they say are seeking to establish an independent state called East Turkestan.
State media reports of official notices have emerged in recent days, demanding that party members, civil servants, students and teachers not to observe Ramadan.
Officials in the region have compelled some Muslim restaurant owners to remain open for the month which began last Saturday. Muslims worldwide observe Ramadan, during which many abstain from eating and drinking during daylight hours.
Officials at state-run Xinjiang Broadcasting Network in northwest Xinjiang’s Ili prefecture were reminded this week that observing Ramadan was a violation of Communist Party discipline and that Saturday’s anniversary was “a sensitive time for social stability work”.
“All party members and workers from the Ili branch office must not fast … must not participate in religious activities, and must carry out work guiding and educating relatives,” a notice on the cable television station’s website said.