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Ramadan 2015 - China 'Bans Fasting' For Uighur Muslims: Al-Azhar Joins China's Ramadan Restriction Condemnations

21 June 2015

By Fiona Keating and Ahmed Abdullah

In parts of the far western Xinjiang district, Chinese officials have banned Muslim party members, civil servants, students and teachers from fasting during the holy month of Ramadan.

"China is increasing its bans and monitoring as Ramadan approaches. The faith of the Uighurs has been highly politicised, and the increase in controls could cause sharp resistance," Dilxat Raxit, spokesman for the exiled group, the World Uighur Congress (WUC), said in a Reuters statement.

The Uighur leader saw this as China attempting to control their Islamic faith. He warned that the restrictions would force "the Uighur people to resist [Chinese rule] even further."

Raxit, the Sweden-based spokesman for the WUC, told Radio Free Asia: "They are extracting guarantees from parents, promising that their children won't fast on Ramadan."

According to the Chinese government's website, halal restaurants in Jinghe County, near the Kazakh border, were encouraged by food safety officials to stay open during day hours in Ramadan.

Chinese authorities have set restrictions on Uighur Muslims in the northwestern region of Xinjiang every Ramadan.

Officials are forced to give verbal as well as written assurances "guaranteeing they have no faith, will not attend religious activities and will lead the way in not fasting over Ramadan," state media reported.

Muslim shops and restaurants have also been ordered to sell cigarettes and alcohol or be shut down.

In December 2014, China banned the wearing of Islamic veiled robes in public in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, a predominantly Muslim region.

Beijing is continuing its campaign against "religious extremism", although human rights groups call it religious repression.

Xinjiang, which activists call East Turkestan, has been autonomous since 1955 but continues to be the subject of continued security restrictions by Chinese authorities.

There are eight million Turkish-speaking Uighur Muslims in the northwestern Xinjiang region.

From Fiona Keating writes for Intercept

Al-Azhar condemns China's Ramadan restriction

The leading Muslim seat of learning, Al-Azhar, condemned China Friday for imposing restriction on fasting in its mainly Muslim Xinjiang region during the holy month of Ramadan.

China has banned civil servants, students and teachers in Xinjiang from fasting during Ramadan which began on Thursday, and ordered restaurants to stay open.

''Al-Azhar and its grand imam, Ahmed Al-Tayeb, condemn the Chinese authorities' ban on Muslims from fasting and practicing their religious rituals during Ramadan in some parts of the western Xinjiang region,'' said a statement from the Cairo-based Al-Azhar.

''Al-Azhar rejects all forms of oppression practiced against Uighur Muslims in China that affect their religious rights and personal freedoms,'' said the prestigious institution, demanding that the international community, the United Nations and human rights groups end these violations.

Muslims fast from dawn to dusk during Ramadan, but China's ruling Communist Party is officially atheist and for years has restricted the practice in Xinjiang, home to the mostly Muslim Uighur minority.

China says it faces a terrorist threat in Xinjiang, with officials blaming ''religious extremism'' for growing violence.
Uighur rights groups say China's restrictions on Islam in Xinjiang have added to ethnic tensions there, where clashes have killed hundreds in recent years. 



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