Chinese Uyghurs defy Ramadan ban

For Al Jazeera English:

The government’s attempt to clamp down on religious expression has backfired among Uyghurs.

Kashgar, China –┬áChinese authorities have imposed restrictions on Uyghur Muslims during the month of Ramadan, banning government employees and school children from fasting, in what rights groups say has become an annual attempt at systematically erasing the region’s Islamic identity.

Chinese authorities have justified the ban on fasting by saying it is meant to protect the health of students, and restrictions on religious practices by government officials are meant to ensure the state does not support any particular faith.

Yet in Kashgar, in Xinjiang province,┬áChina’s westernmost city, close to the border with Tajikstan and Kyrgyztan, Uyghur Muslims say the restrictions have backfired. Not only have locals become more observant of Islamic practices, but many have found ways to flaunt Chinese laws restricting everything from who may attend the mosque, to which copies of the Quran are read.

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