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China restricts Ramadan fasting in restive Xinjiang

Published on Aug 1, 2012 7:46 PM
An ethnic Uighur woman pushes her fruit stall while her child lies in it along a street in Asku, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region on June 14, 2012. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (AFP) - Authorities in China's restive north-western region of Xinjiang have banned Muslim officials and students from fasting during Ramadan, prompting an exiled rights group to warn of new violence.

Guidance posted on numerous government websites called on Communist Party leaders to restrict Muslim religious activities during the holy month, including fasting and visiting mosques.

Xinjiang is home to around nine million Uighurs, a Turkic speaking, largely Muslim ethnic minority, many of whom accuse China's leaders of religious and political persecution. The region has been rocked by repeated outbreaks of ethnic violence, but China denies claims of repression and relies on tens of thousands of Uighur officials to help it govern Xinjiang.

A statement from Zonglang township in Xinjiang's Kashgar district said that "the county committee has issued comprehensive policies on maintaining social stability during the Ramadan period. It is forbidden for Communist Party cadres, civil officials (including those who have retired) and students to participate in Ramadan religious activities."

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