It’s Ramadan and Muslims all over the world have excitedly prepared for this blessed month, except for the young Uighur Muslim in China.
According to reports, the Chinese Authorities have confined Uighur muslims who are returning from summer vacations from fasting in the month of Ramadan and taking part in religious activities. “They are extracting guarantees from parents, promising that their children won’t fast on Ramadan.” Sweden based spokesman for the exile World Uighur Congress (WUC), Dilxat Raxit told the radio.
The restrictions state that Muslim students under 18 years of age are banned from fasting and taking part in the religious activities during the month of Ramadan. Students failing to abide by the orders are being reported to and punished by the Chinese Authorities.
“They have also made groups of 10 households responsible for spying on each other, so that if a single child from one family fasts for Ramadan, or takes part in religious activities, then all 10 families will be fined,” Raxit said, “It’s called a 10-household guarantee system.”
Ramadan is the holiest month in the Islamic Calendar. During this month all sane Muslims who have come of age fast, do good deeds and remain in obedience and prayers to their Lord. Engagement with the Holy Quran is the most common practice. During the last 10 days many men spend the nights at their local mosque being engaged in spiritual retreat. Only the sick, the feeble, the pregnant women, the women after childbirth and the travellers are exempted from fasting.
It has been confirmed by religious officials that fasting during Ramadan is taboo for the young Uighur Muslims. “Fasting is not allowed,” an official at a religious affairs bureau in Hotan’s Yutian County told Radio Free Asia, “The students and the teachers have to report to their schools every Friday, even during the vacation. It’s like regular lessons,” he said, adding that the students must have their meals there.
Activists have stated that the Uighur students have had their mobile phones confiscated by the authorities way before Ramadan. “After the students get back to their hometowns, those with cell phones and computers must hand them in to the police for searching,” said Raxit, “If they don’t hand them over and are reported or caught by the authorities, then they will have to bear the consequences.”
This ban comes ahead of the fourth year of the brutal riots in Xianjing which killed at least 200 people. A further 200 people, mostly Uighurs were imprisoned by the Chinese authorities, of which 26 were given death sentences.
Although the Xianjing region has been independent since 1955, it continues to be the point of huge security repressions by authorities. The Chinese Authorities have been accused by Rights groups of religious crackdowns in the name of counter terrorism against the Uighur Muslims. The Muslims accuse them of settling millions of Han Chinese in their area with the ultimate motive of wiping out the Muslim originality and lifestyle.
Analysts say the policy of migrating Han Chinese to Xinjiang to reinforce Beijing’s authority has increased the percentage of Han in the region from five in the 1940s to more than 40 now. Xinjiang is being seen by the capital of China as a priceless resource because of its important spot near Central Asia and its large oil and gas reserves.
By Aida Idrees