China is discouraging some Muslims in the far western region
of Xinjiang from fasting during Ramzan. The government says the move is
motivated by health concerns, but others said Friday that it’s a risky campaign
to secularise the Muslim minority that will likely backfire.

Several city, county and village governments in Xinjiang
have posted notices on their websites banning or discouraging Communist Party
members, civil servants, students and teachers from fasting during the
religious holiday. Muslims around the world abstain from food and drink from
dawn to dusk during the 30-day period.

Regional spokeswoman Hou Hanmin was quoted in the state-run
Global Times newspaper Friday as saying authorities encourage people to “eat
properly for study and work’’ but don’t force anyone to eat during Ramzan.

Xinjiang is home to the traditionally Muslim Uighur ethnic
group. Long-simmering resentment among Uighurs over rule by China’s Han
majority and an influx of migrants has sporadically erupted into deadly
Those familiar with the region say attempts to restrict
participation in Ramzan are not new, but this year’s campaign is more intense.

There is “a much more public and concerted effort’’ than in
previous years and in some cases Communist Party leaders are delivering food to
village elders to try to get them to break their fast, according to Dru
Gladney, a professor of anthropology at Pomona College in California and an
expert on China’s Muslim minorities.

“I think it is a misguided effort to try to secularise the
Uighurs and my feeling is it will backfire,’’ said Gladney. “It makes the
Uighurs even more angry at the party.’’

Separatist sentiment is rife in Xinjiang, with some Uighurs
advocating armed rebellion. A smaller fringe has been radicalised by militant
calls for jihad and trained in camps across the border in Afghanistan and

Over the last few months, authorities in Xinjiang have
stepped up a campaign against illegal religious schools.


  1. Most of China related stories are negative and taken out of context. The real victim of this kind of journalism is American people. These kind of news will brainwash those people whose only source of information is the news.


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