China Criticized for Banning Ramadan Fast

Jul 7, 2014

July 7, 2014 | USCIRF

WASHINGTON, DC – As Muslims around the world observe the holy month of Ramadan, Uighur Muslims in China face far-reaching restrictions on their religious practices.  The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) urges the Chinese government to end such actions, including bans on fasting and other religious observances during Ramadan in China’s autonomous region of Xinjiang, a Uighur Muslim-majority area. 

“By continuing its annual ban on fasting during Ramadan, the Chinese government signals its ongoing disrespect for internationally recognized human rights, including the right of freedom of religion or belief,” said Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett, USCIRF Chair.  Students and teachers, professors, and other government employees are prohibited from fasting and, in some cases, from performing their daily prayers, during Ramadan.  In fact, in some locations, authorities have held festivities to commemorate the Communist Party’s founding and served food to determine if Muslims would adhere to the fasting ban.  Those observing the fast may be subject to threats, detention and arrest by local authorities.

Religious freedom conditions in Xinjiang have declined dramatically since June 2009.  At that time, the Chinese government began instituting sweeping security measures that, among other goals, sought to weaken Uighur Muslims’ religious adherence and eradicate so-called “illegal” religious gatherings and activities.  Uighur Muslims have expressed deep resentment at Beijing’s oversight of Xinjiang and the restrictions on their religious practices and activities.  

USCIRF’s 2014 Annual Report chapter on China highlights the religious freedom abuses and violence that have resulted from the government’s policies in Xinjiang. USCIRF again recommends that China be designated as a “country of particular concern” (CPC).  The State Department has designated China as a CPC since 1999.