The Chinese government has banned Muslims in the Xinjiang region from celebrating Ramadan, a traditional monthlong period of fasting and spiritual reflection.
A spokesman for the exiled World Uyghur Congress, which promotes democracy, human rights and freedom for the indigenous Uyghur (Uighur) people, said authorities encouraged Uighurs to eat free meals, and inspected homes to check whether families were observing the fast.
Several government agencies and schools posted the ban notices on their websites, saying it was aimed at preventing the institutions from being used to promote religion. 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, according to the Associated Press. Continue reading