Chinese authorities in Xinjiang have prohibited Muslim working and retired civil servants and students from fasting or observing other religious activities during the month of Ramadan.
45 percent of the population in this region is Muslim. A number of notices were issued by government departments and schools, saying that fasting was severely forbidden and some even banned going to the mosques to offer prayers.
The Communist party which is currently ruling China is atheist. They claim that these bans are to prevent schools and government organizations from being used as a means to promote religion.
The Uighur Muslim population that resides in the region have been blamed for attacking government institutions and crowds of civilians. The group has denied any involvement in these incidents and they claim that these incidents are being used as a pretext to impose bans.
Spokesman for the World Uyghur Congress, Dilxat Raxit said that the Communist party held an event for celebrating the anniversary of the party and provided free food to test whether the Muslims were observing fast or not. He also said that this will lead to more clashes if China is harsh and forceful towards the minority. Such bans have also been enforced in past.
One website of a grade school stated that the teachers are not allowed to take part in religious activities or to encourage students to observe religious activities. It also said that the students cannot wear clothes which indicate any religious symbol. The children cannot read or write any script referring to religion. Parents cannot coerce their children to have any particular religious beliefs or take part in any religious events.
News organizations being run by the government have written articles describing fasting hazardous to the health of young children who such should eat on a regular basis.
Retired teachers were asked to guard the entrance of mosques in the city of Bole to forbid students from entering and offering their prayers. The Turpan commercial bureau also severely forbade the civil servants to offer prayers in mosque.
The ruling communist party said that religion should be kept separate from education. The students should not be influenced by religious beliefs. However, for the Han Chinese, who mostly follow Buddhism, Daoism or Christianity, this rule is hardly ever imposed.