06/07/2016, 12.13
CHINA
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Ramadan in China, ritual fasting banned in Xinjiang

About nine million ethnic Uighur Muslims live in the northwestern province, targeted by authorities who use the fight against terrorism to curtail their activities. Party members, civil servants, students and minors "should not refrain from eating and cannot enter the mosque" during the holy month, which began yesterday across the Islamic world.

Urumqi (AsiaNews) - The Chinese government has restricted the practice of ritual fasting of Ramadan for Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang. Public officials, members of the local Communist Party members, students and children of the north-western province "should not fast and should not take part in the religious activities". The decision was published on various government websites of the area, one of the most turbulent in the country.

There are about nine million Turkic-speaking ethnic Muslim Uighur in Xinjiang, who resent the Communist domination and invasion of Han Chinese sent by the government to try to make them a minority. Although always rejecting accusations of religious interference, Beijing has imposed many restrictions on religious practice in the area under the guise of the fight against Islamic terrorism.

Ahmatjian Tohti, an official of the municipality of Tiekeqi, made it clear in a public meeting that members of local government "should forcibly students, members of administrations and minors who want to enter the mosque" during the holy month. This began yesterday across the Muslim world, it is one of the "five pillars" of Islam and involves in various capacities around 1.6 billion people around the world.

The local executive is also targeting restaurants and grocery stores in areas with a Muslim majority which usually close during the fasting hours. On the website of the government of the autonomous county of Qapqal has stated that these "must however remain open, so that the great majority of the population can have normal access to places of refreshment."

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