Aug 032012

Beijing (AP): China is discouraging some Uighur Muslims in the far west Xinjiang region from fasting during Ramadan. The government says the move is motivated by health concerns, but others say it is a risky campaign to secularize the Muslim minority.

Beijing-based Uighur economist Ilham Tohti said Friday that such rules are not new in Xinjiang but authorities seem to be enforcing them more strictly this year.

Xinjiang’s Zonglang village has banned civil servants and students from taking part in Ramadan. In Onsu county, students and teachers were cautioned against observing the religious holiday.

Regional spokeswoman Hou Hanmin was quoted in the state-run Global Times newspaper as saying authorities encourage people to “eat properly for study and work” but don’t force anyone to eat during Ramadan.

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