Muslims all over the world are celebrating the Ramadan feast, which began on June 28 and would end on July 28. For an entire month, Muslims take part in the religious celebration by fasting from dawn to dusk. In China, however, it is a different story.
The country’s officially atheist ruling Communist party has banned Ramadan fasting in its mainly Muslim Xinjiang region, warning the Muslin community not to participate in any Ramadan and religious activities.
Several government agencies and offices have posted the warning in their websites, or created memorandums that took effect immediately; issuing warnings that no one is allowed to observe the Ramadan fasting.
Bozhou Radio and TV University, run by state, also issued a warning to all young people, teachers, and party members, banning them from participating in the Muslim activities.
Another state-run agency, which manages the Tarim River, posted photos of its cadres enjoying a group meal last Saturday. The staff wore traditional Uighur “doppa” caps. The agency defended the move, saying that those who joined the feast had ‘expressed a positive attitude and will lead the non-fasting’, despite the fact that the Ramadan was supposed to start on that day.
It is unclear what sanctions the violators would receive if they were caught and proven to have participated in the Ramadan fast.
This is not the first time that the government has banned its people from participating in religious activities, such as the Ramadan. For many years now, the feast has been banned from Xinjiang region, but announcements are made yearly to make sure the faithful do not break the laws.
Fasting restrictions to ensure good health
The atheist ruling party did not offer detailed reasons why participation in the Ramadan activities are banned. In the past, however, China has defended the move, saying that restrictions on the fasting activities were done by the government to ensure the good health of its employees and the rest of the public.
To make sure the rule is not broken, officials even took to inspecting homes to check whether its occupants were fasting or not.
A number of sectors decry harassment, warning of civil unrest and more conflicts if China were to continue restricting of the faith of Uighurs, the Muslim minority living in the Xinjiang region.
Deadly clashes have become quite regular in the region because of fighting between state security forces and the Uighurs. The region is believed to be rich in natural resources, which could be fueling the deadly battles.