Last Updated: Tue Nov 02, 2010 12:37 pm (KSA) 09:37 am (GMT)

No beards, veils for China’s Muslims in Ramadan

Officials visit mosques twice a week to ensure enforcement
Officials visit mosques twice a week to ensure enforcement

Local Chinese authorities in Xinjiang province said that Chinese authorities have imposed new restrictions on Muslim practices during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

The restrictions include banning men from growing beards and women from wearing face veils as well as prohibiting local officials from fasting during the holy month, according to a report in the London-based Asharq Al-Awsat.

The article said that local authorities visit mosques twice a week to make sure the new rules are being followed.

According to local websites in China, other laws have been imposed ostensibly to maintain security and stability during the month of Ramadan. These include forbidding students and teachers from fasting, preventing retired civil servants from entering mosques, and banning restaurant closures during typical fasting hours.

 We have to prevent religious people from communal rituals [like the daily taraweeh prayers] and religious gatherings that could destabilize the region 
Xinjiang official website

A statement posted on Xinjiang's official website defended these measures as a way to combat terrorism and the prevalence of religious education that they say incites violence.

"We have to prevent religious people from communal rituals [like the daily taraweeh prayers] and religious gatherings that could destabilize the region," said the statement.

The government also warned against trying to force anyone to fast, in reference to preachers who discuss the Muslim obligation of fasting and the benefits it entails.

The restrictive measures came in the wake of recent violent attacks in the province that left 20 policemen dead. The authorities blamed fundamentalist groups who fight for the independence of the province and the declaration of an Islamic state.

One such group, the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, is considered a terrorist organization by the government of China, the United States, and the United Nations.

China accuses Islamists of trying to restore the 19th century Islamic nation of East Turkestan, which China annexed in the 1880s, in Xinjiang province. After the Communists came to power in 1949, the Chinese government tightened its grip on the province and changed it name to Xinjiang, which means "the new city," in reference to turning it away from Islam towards atheist Communism.


(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)

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