China imposes annual restrictions on worshippers amid escalating ethnic tensions across the region
China has banned government officials, teachers and students from fasting during Ramadan, amid rising tensions been the central government and the Muslim Uighur population of the far west.
A number of local departments in Xinjiang, home to the Turkic-speaking Uighurs,issued the ban to local party members, civil servants, teachers and students during the holy month of Ramadan, which starts on Thursday.
Similar bans have been made in previous years. However, this year’s prohibition is particularly sensitive because it follows a government pledge to crack down on “religious extremists” whom it has blamed for causing violent attacks across the country and seeking to join jihadists in Syria and Iraq.
In Sangong Town, Changji City, authorities ordered: “Communist party members, civil servants, students and minors are firmly forbidden from attending religious activities,” according to the website of Xinjiang Standing Committee of People’s Congress.
It added that local mosques remain under 24-hour surveillance for hidden security threats.
Xinjiang Xingnong Website, a local government website, published a statement that said: “We firmly fight against religious extremist ideas [and] prevent those people lawbreakers from attending religious activities.”
The move has added to the persecution felt by members of the ethnic minority throughout the country.
On Weibo, Haidixia, said: “Ramadan is coming, there will be top-level warnings and strict controls. It’s a horrible month. I only want to say that Ramadan is an auspicious month with all Muslims dedicated to doing good things for Allah.”
In May, authorities in Xinjiang stopped issuing new passports and recalled existing passports to be held by police, amid a widening security tightening by the atheist Chinese Communist Party.