BEIJING: After three years of ban on fasting during the holy Islamic month of Ramadan in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), Uyghur Muslims from Xinjiang refrain fasting during Ramadan despite easing of restrictions this year, due to lingering fear of being branded an “extremist” and marked for detention.
Shohret Hoshur, in an article in Radio Free Asia (RFA), wrote that Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims in the XUAR for years have been prohibited from fully observing Ramadan due to religious persecution and restrictions imposed by the Chinese government, which has in many cases banned civil servants, students and teachers from fasting during the holy month.
In certain areas of the region, access to mosques is more tightly controlled and restaurants are ordered to remain open, while Uyghur retirees are often forced to pledge ahead of Ramadan that they won’t fast or pray to set an example for the wider community and to assume responsibility for ensuring others also refrain.
During last year’s April 23 to May 23 Ramadan, RFA learned that authorities in Kashgar (in Chinese, Kashi) prefecture’s Makit (Maigaiti)–a county in which some 83 per cent of the population is Uyghur–had informed residents that they were required to turn in any friends or relatives who took part in fasting.
Residents were told that that they could face punishment for fasting, including being sent to one of the XUAR’s vast network of internment camps, where authorities are believed to have held up to 1.8 million Uighurs and other Muslim minorities since April 2017, wrote Hoshur.
RFA also spoke with an official in Kashgar’s Peyziwat (Jiashi) county at the time who said his township had instituted mandatory attendance at a daily dawn flag raising ceremony, as well as evening political studies, as part of a bid to prevent residents from fasting because those are the only times of the day that they are allowed to eat, according to Muslim tradition.
While investigating the situation in the region during this year’s Ramadan, observed between April 12 to May 12, RFA spoke with representatives of government offices, including religious affairs and United


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