China has imposed restrictions on marking the Islamic holy month of Ramzan in restive Xinjiang province and Communist Party of China (CPC) members have been directed not to fast during the period, reports said on Monday.
Officially atheist China has a history of issuing directives against marking the holy month, which began in the country on Monday, and authorities have said earlier that fasting is illegal and against the CPC’s principles.
Government officials, students and teachers were among those directed not to observe the dawn-to-sunset fast.
“Party members, cadres, civil servants, students and minors must not fast for Ramadan and must not take part in religious activities,” AFP reported, quoting a notice posted on the official website of Korla city in central Xinjiang.
“A website run by the education bureau of Shuimogou district in the regional capital Urumqi posted a notice on Monday last week calling for ‘prevention of students and teachers from all schools from entering mosques for religious activities’ during Ramadan,” the report added.
The notices posted this year echo the government’s earlier sentiments.
“CPC and League members, civil servants and students cannot take part in fasting and other religious activities. All CPC officials and civil servants should guide family members and friends to act in line with the law and fight against illegal religious activities,” said a statement from Turpan commercial bureau in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) that was quoted by state-run Global Times newspaper last year.
China has about 20 million Muslims and some 13 million, most of them Muslim Uyghurs, live in Xinjiang.
Ramzan is also observed in other autonomous regions, provinces and cities, including Gansu, Ningxia and Beijing. It is in Xinjiang, which has witnessed ethnic violence in recent years, that the curbs are mostly imposed.
Official media put out reports saying Muslims are being allowed to mark the month with religious freedom. But state media reports added the government had urged “religious people to become model of integrity and fight against extremism”.
“Ramadan is a holy, auspicious month for Muslims during which they can reflect and spend time with their family and friends,” said Zhang Chunxian, the CPC secretary in XUAR.
Zhang hoped people will take time to remember their social responsibilities, help the less fortunate to uphold righteousness and tolerance and support harmony in Xinjiang. Zhang also hoped all religious people would become models of integrity and fight against extremism, the official Xinhua news agency reported.