China bans Ramadan observances in Xinjiang region

Thursday, June 18, 2015

In a move that should surprise no one, China has once again declared its annual ban on observances of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month during which the faithful are called to fast during daylight hours and encouraged to pray and recite the Qur'an. Remaining true to its troubled history with religion in general, and Islam in particular (due to the perpetual unrest in the mostly Muslim Xinjiang province), the Chinese government has banned the observance of the lunar month in schools and by government employees, with particular emphasis on fasting:
Most Muslims are required to fast from dawn to dusk during the holy month, which began on Thursday, but China's ruling Communist party is officially atheist and for years has restricted the practice in Xinjiang, home to the mostly Muslim Uighur minority.

"Food service workplaces will operate normal hours during Ramadan," said a notice posted last week on the website of the state Food and Drug Administration in Xinjiang's Jinghe county.

Officials in the region's Bole county were told: "During Ramadan do not engage in fasting, vigils or other religious activities," according to a local government website report of a meeting this week.
...
As in previous years, school children were included in directives limiting Ramadan fasting and other religious observances.

The education bureau of Tarbaghatay city, known as Tacheng in Chinese, this month ordered schools to communicate to students that "during Ramadan, ethnic minority students do not fast, do not enter mosques ... and do not attend religious activities".
As with most government suppression, however, people find ways to quietly defy the ban:
Yet, Abdul Razzak and other Uighurs said the attempt to clamp down on religious expression has backfired in Kashgar, with more and more locals flaunting the restrictions.

Nearly every business in Kashgar's old city is closed during the hottest part of the afternoon when Al Jazeera visited this week during Ramadan. In the evening, throngs of young women in headscarves or full face veils pass signs posted at Kashgar's main hospital reminding them veiled women cannot enter.
...
"Sure, it's against the law to bring kids to the masjid [mosque], but we do it anyway," said Ghulam Abbas, a middle-aged Uighur man who makes a living selling fried fish on the main boulevard in the old city.
...
Asked if Uighurs are forgetting how to recite the Quran as a result, Abbas called his eight-year-old son over and, after some coaxing, convinced him to recite a chapter from memory. "They want to cut our children off from Islam," Abbas said. "We are not allowed to teach them the Quran, but we do, at home - secretly."

It is not the only restriction that is being ignored by the Uighurs in Kashgar.

"The Chinese don't want us to have kids, but we just pay fines or bribe people," says Abdul Razzak, who has five children - three more than allowed by law. His three extra children, two sons and a daughter, have cost him around 60,000 yuan ($9,670) in fines.

No comments :

Post a Comment