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China says no fasting for Ramadan

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China has ordered students and civil servants in the northwest Muslim part of Beijing to avoid the traditional fasting associated with Ramadan, the Islamic holy month.

The Washington Post reports that statements were posted on websites of schools, government agencies and local party organizations in the Xinjiang region.

The statements read, “No teacher can participate in religious activities, instill religious thoughts in students or coerce students into religious activities.”

The BBC reports that, "State-administered Bozhou Radio and TV University said on its website that the fasting ban applied to party members, teachers and young people."

The ruling comes after much violence in the area.

According to Channel News Asia, "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."

ABC News notes, "Similar bans have been imposed in the past on fasting for Ramadan, which began at sundown Saturday. But this year is unusually sensitive because Xinjiang is under tight security following attacks that the government blames on Muslim extremists with foreign terrorist ties."

South China Morning Post reports that

"Dilxadi Rexiti, a spokesman for the exiled World Uygur Congress, cited local sources as saying that authorities encouraged Uygurs to eat free meals on Monday, and inspected homes to check if the fast was being observed.

'China taking these kind of coercive measures, restricting the faith of Uygurs, will create more conflict,' he said.

'We call on China to ensure religious freedom for Uygurs and stop political repression of Ramadan.'"

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