Students and civil servants in China’s Muslim northwest have been ordered by the state to avoid taking part in fasting during the Islamic month of Ramadan.
Statements posted in the past week on websites of schools, government agencies and local party organisations in the Xinjiang region said the ban would protect students’ wellbeing and prevent the use of schools and government offices to promote religion, the AP news agency reported on today.
Websites of local party organisations said members of the officially atheist ruling party should also avoid fasting, although the month of Ramadan, which began at sundown on June 28, is observed by Muslims.
Cities in Xinjiang have set up news portals saying that fasting was detrimental to the physical wellbeing of students, and also have called in retired teachers to stand guard at mosques in order to prevent students from entering.
Similar bans have been imposed on fasting in the past, though this year’s ban was unusually sensitive because Xinjiang is under tight security following a number of attacks that the government blames on Muslim rebels who allegedly have ties with foreign armed groups.