Chinese officials have enacted measures to prevent Muslims from fasting during Ramadan in the largest province in the country.
All restaurants have been ordered to remain open and communist party activists have been ordered by the Industrial and Commercial Bureau of Aksu to do 24-hour guard shifts in public buildings in the Xinjiang province, which is populated mainly by the predominantly Muslim Uyghur people. The Muslim Uyghur make up 8 million of the 19 million people within the province.
Students in one county have also been ordered to gather on Friday, Islam’s holy day, to “collectively study, watch red (communist) films, and conduct sports activities” in order to “enrich their social life during the summer vacation,” according to a report from the World Uyghur Congress (WUC).
While the directive for restaurants and businesses to remain open during Ramadan has been issued in past years in the province, no such directive has been issued to other Muslim communities throughout China.
A Han official from the province would not clarify whether the directive was specifically aimed at preventing the Uyghur people from fasting, and spoke to Radio Free Asia on the condition that he remain anonymous. Another official in the province, however, said that county officials ordered his office ensure restaurants remain “open as usual … especially during the Ramadan period.”
The official also said that “teachers, public servants and employees in the service sector” are banned from fasting during Ramadan. “It is strictly prohibited and if they are found fasting during this period, they will be dealt with,” he said, according to the report from the WUC.
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