Government employees and Communist party members are banned from fasting, wearing veils or growing beards, said circulars posted on several official websites. Other measures – which appear to vary area to area – include forcing restaurants to maintain their usual opening hours instead of shifting them in light of dawn-to-dusk fasting.
Religious controls are usually stricter during Ramadan but experts say this year’s are noticeably stronger and believe it is the first time they have been published rather than passed on orally.
A notice on the Zhaosu county website said that ideological education had to be stepped up in the face of “violent and disruptive activities by religious extremists, separatists and terrorists”.
Last month saw the worst violence for a decade with a string of fatal attacks including an assault on police in Kashgar that left 16 officers dead and 16 wounded. No one has claimed responsibility but officials have blamed Uighur separatists.
Two of the towns that posted notices, Xinhe and Shaya, are near Kuqa, where 11 people died in suicide bombings and police shootings a few days later.
Around half the population of the vast region of Xinjiang is composed of Muslim Uighurs. Many resent the religious and cultural restrictions placed upon them and some seek an independent East Turkestan.
A note on the Shaya government website said propaganda and inspections should be stepped up during the period. “Fasting and participation in religious activities by party members and students is forbidden,” it said.
The note called for stronger security at mosques, saying that officials should “prohibit playing recordings, videos or using loudspeakers to force people to take part in fasting. Work units or individuals are not allowed to hand out religious propaganda in public areas.” More: