China bans Ramadan fasting in Xinjiang region

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Beijing: China has banned civil servants, students and teachers in its mainly Muslim Xinjiang region from taking part in Ramadan fasting, government websites said, prompting condemnation from an exile group today.

China’s ruling Communist party is officially atheist, and for years has restricted fasting in Xinjiang, home to the mostly Muslim Uighur minority.

Xinjiang sees regular and often deadly clashes between Uighurs and state security forces, and Beijing has blamed recent deadly attacks elsewhere in China on militants seeking independence for the resource-rich region.

Rights groups blame tensions due to religious and cultural restrictions placed on Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in the vast area, which abuts Central Asia.

The commercial affairs bureau of Turfan city said on its website Monday that “civil servants and students cannot take part in fasting and other religious activities”.