Ramadan has started for all Muslims in the world. This means that they have to fast from sunrise till sunset. But in China the contrary is true. China has banned Ramadan fasting in the Xinjiang region, home to a large Uighur Muslim community. Uighur is a Turkic ethnic group living in Eastern and Central Asia.
Muslim civil servants, students and teachers are forbidden to participate in fasting during Ramadan and restaurants are ordered to stay open. And it goes beyond that: As for private companies, Muslim employees were offered lunches during fasting hours. Anyone who refuses to eat risks losing their annual bonus or even their job.
But those restrictions are not really new. For example: Muslims in this region are forbidden to grow a beard if they are under 45 years old. The authorities in Xinjiang also keep mosques under strict surveillance.
The Chinese government says that these restrictions are necessary to stop religious extremists. Mehmet Talip, a 90-year-old Uighur Communist Party member, had promised to avoid fasting and vowed to “not enter a mosque in order to consciously resist religious and superstitious ideas”.
Far from having the desired effect, this ban reinforces the determination of some Uighurs to follow fasting on their behalf as a defense of their own culture.
Source: Al Jazeera