Ramadan 2015 - China 'Bans Fasting' For Uighur Muslims: Al-Azhar Joins China's Ramadan Restriction Condemnations
21 June 2015
By Fiona Keating and Ahmed Abdullah
In parts of the far western Xinjiang district, Chinese officials have banned
Muslim party members, civil servants, students and teachers from fasting during
the holy month of Ramadan.
"China is increasing its bans and monitoring as Ramadan approaches. The faith of
the Uighurs has been highly politicised, and the increase in controls could
cause sharp resistance," Dilxat Raxit, spokesman for the exiled group, the World
Uighur Congress (WUC), said in a Reuters statement.
The Uighur leader saw this as China attempting to control their Islamic faith.
He warned that the restrictions would force "the Uighur people to resist
[Chinese rule] even further."
Raxit, the Sweden-based spokesman for the WUC, told Radio Free Asia: "They are
extracting guarantees from parents, promising that their children won't fast on
According to the Chinese government's website, halal restaurants in Jinghe
County, near the Kazakh border, were encouraged by food safety officials to stay
open during day hours in Ramadan.
Chinese authorities have set restrictions on Uighur Muslims in the northwestern
region of Xinjiang every Ramadan.
Officials are forced to give verbal as well as written assurances "guaranteeing
they have no faith, will not attend religious activities and will lead the way
in not fasting over Ramadan," state media reported.
Muslim shops and restaurants have also been ordered to sell cigarettes and
alcohol or be shut down.
In December 2014, China banned the wearing of Islamic veiled robes in public in
Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, a predominantly Muslim region.
Beijing is continuing its campaign against "religious extremism", although human
rights groups call it religious repression.
Xinjiang, which activists call East Turkestan, has been autonomous since 1955
but continues to be the subject of continued security restrictions by Chinese
There are eight million Turkish-speaking Uighur Muslims in the northwestern
From Fiona Keating writes for Intercept
Al-Azhar condemns China's Ramadan restriction
The leading Muslim seat of learning, Al-Azhar, condemned China Friday for
imposing restriction on fasting in its mainly Muslim Xinjiang region during the
holy month of Ramadan.
China has banned civil servants, students and teachers in
Xinjiang from fasting during Ramadan which began on Thursday, and ordered
restaurants to stay open.
''Al-Azhar and its grand imam, Ahmed Al-Tayeb, condemn the
Chinese authorities' ban on Muslims from fasting and practicing their religious
rituals during Ramadan in some parts of the western Xinjiang region,'' said a
statement from the Cairo-based Al-Azhar.
''Al-Azhar rejects all forms of oppression practiced against
Uighur Muslims in China that affect their religious rights and personal
freedoms,'' said the prestigious institution, demanding that the international
community, the United Nations and human rights groups end these violations.
Muslims fast from dawn to dusk during Ramadan, 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.
China says it faces a terrorist threat in Xinjiang, with
officials blaming ''religious extremism'' for growing violence.
Uighur rights groups say China's restrictions on Islam in Xinjiang have added to
ethnic tensions there, where clashes have killed hundreds in recent years.