Different Media Pictures of Ramadan in Xinjiang

CDT reported in an earlier post that Xinjiang Muslims are facing a security crackdown and fasting restrictions during the holy month of Ramadan

Earlier this month, Radio Free Asia also reported on several restrictions imposed upon Muslims in :

Women are being forced to uncover their faces in public by police, while restrictions on teaching to Uyghur children are being intensified, police said.

“We are…checking the identities of those who have beards or mustaches, and women who cover their faces,” an officer who answered the phone at the Charbagh village police station, in Lop county, Hotan prefecture.

“We uncover the faces of veiled women by force if necessary,” he said. “We also arrest anyone teaching religion to children illegally,” he said, adding that police were also helping to enforce a ban on Muslim restaurant closures in Ramadan.

But the China Daily paints a different picture: ‘Ramadan brings normalcy back to Kashgar’:

A month after a brutal terrorist attack near its front entrance, the three-storey Yijin Motel in this largely Uygur city re-opened for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

[…] When asked about Ramadan dietary restrictions, a veiled female Uygur shopkeeper, who was eating sunflower seeds on a lazy afternoon, pounded on her husband’s chest and said: “It’s in there!”

“Why need it here?” she said in broken Mandarin while pointing at her own mouth.

Guli, a 19-year-old from Kashgar’s Bachu county, is aware that there have been heightened security measures, but they hardly affect her. “I don’t feel them. Young people like us don’t normally observe the fast anyway; only the older generation does, and I don’t see how they can be prevented from doing so,” she said.

Read more about the Kashgar attacks via CDT.

The New Dominion blog offers its own critical commentary of the China Daily article:

Keeping in mind that this is an English language article and is more likely written with foreign audiences in mind, one cannot help but sense that much of it is designed to obliquely address numerous ongoing claims that there is a Ramadan crackdown being implemented in response to the attacks. Hu emphasizes that part and parcel with the “return to normalcy” are taking part, unhindered and voluntarily, in the discipline demanded of them during Ramadan. The basis for claims of a Ramadan crackdown have been various township and village level government websites that made the political faux-pas of making regulations publically viewable online, and after the news hit the Western press, indeed some of these townships took the regulations off their site, but so far it seems that the Kashgar government has not at least publicly discussed Ramadan regulations, and so the actual extent of Ramadan restrictions throughout Xinjiang remains unknown.  Interestingly, Hu decided to throw in the example of an unobservant Muslim into his article

[…] Perhaps implying that if any Uyghurs are not observing Ramadan or if any Uyghur restaurants are remaining open, it’s on their own decision.

September 23, 2008, 9:55 AM
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