China keeps limits on celebration of Muslim holiday
China officially has 21 million Muslims, about half of them from the Hui group which predominates in poor northwestern areas but is spread across the country. Some 7.5 million Uighurs form the largest minority in Xinjiang.
But controls remain over religious activity and all mosques must register with the government supervisory body, the Islamic Association of China.Amnesty International and other rights groups said the government launched a “political re-education campaign” for imams in charge of mosques in Xinjiang following the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.
New restrictions were also placed on religious practise at schools and other institutions during Ramadan.“The authorities force Muslim schoolchildren to have lunch,” the US-based Uighur Human Rights Project said in a recent report. “State employees are under similar pressure,” it said.
A religious affairs official in Khotan, a poor Uighur-majority area of southern Xinjiang, confirmed that a new regional regulation covering celebration of Ramadan had been in force for “five or six years”.“The cadres work for the state, and students and teachers also cannot take part in it (fasting),” said the official, who declined to give his name.
“There is time limit for the religious activities in the mosques,” the Khotan official said by telephone. “All the activities should be finished before 11:30 a.m. and nobody can stay in the mosques at night.“
All the restaurants should open as usual, to provide a service to the people who do not believe in Islam or to the tourists from outside (Xinjiang),” he said.
The party closely monitors activities at mosques in Xinjiang, where it wages a public battle against what it terms the “three evil forces” of religious extremism, separatism and terrorism.