After 3 years of ban on fasting during the holy month of Ramzan in China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), Uyghur Muslims from Xijiang refrain fasting during Ramzan despite easing of restrictions this year, due to lingering fear of being branded as "extremist" and marked for detention.
Shohret Hoshur, in an article in Radio Free Asia (RFA), wrote that Uyghurs 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.Uyghur Muslims in China refrain from fasting during Ramzan
As per the restrictions imposed by the Chinese government, in certain areas of Xinjiang, access to mosques is more tightly controlled and restaurants are ordered to remain open, while Uyghur retirees are often forced to pledge ahead of Ramzan that they won't fast or pray to set an example for the wider community and to assume responsibility for ensuring others also refrain.
As per reports from international media Radio ree Asia, from April 23, 2020, to May 23, 2020, some 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 there were required to turn in any friends or relatives who took part in fasting.
Not only this, the residents were told that they could even 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 Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities since April 2017. As per reports, RFA had also spoken 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 a part of a bid to prevent residents from fasting because those are the only times of the day when they are allowed to eat, according to Muslim tradition.
While investigating the situation in the region during this year's Ramzan, RFA spoke with representatives of government offices, including religious affairs and United Front offices--many of whom, as in previous years, refused to answer questions related to restrictions. However, RFA recently contacted a police officer in Toqquzaq (Tuokezhake) township, in Kashgar's Kona Sheher (Shufu) county, who said that restrictions on fasting had "eased" in his region since 2020, after having been strictly banned for three consecutive years. Speaking on condition of anonymity out of fear of reprisal, he said that meetings about Ramadan are "always being held" at his police station, with authorities informing the public to "stay far away from religious extremism" and "not to believe rumours but to trust in the party and government."