A number of government departments in Xinjiang have banned civil servants from observing Ramadan, the fasting month in the Islamic calendar, according to the BBC.
A statement posted on one department website said that the officials couldn’t “take part in fasting and other religious activities,” and the state-run Bozhou Radio and TV University said that the ban applied to all party members, teachers and young people and extended to offices, hospitals and schools.
The ban was said to be “in accordance with instructions from higher authorities,” according to the AFP, which cited a weather bureau in western Xinjiang.
While it’s not the first time fasting has been regulated in Xinjiang, BBC’s Martin Patience says that this year’s crackdown on the holy month will be seen by many Muslims as an attack on their religion amid tensions that continue to escalate between Xinjiang and Beijing, which blames recent strings of violence in the region on extremist Uyghurs.
In a report about a Party Day celebration from June 30, the Tarim River Basin Management Bureau in Xinjiang posted a photo showing men in traditional hats eating during the daytime.
“Although it was Ramadan, the party members and the officials in this area showed their attitudes and expressed their opinions by not fasting, which shows the advance of the Communist Party,” the bureau‘s post reads.
Meanwhile, millions of Muslims across China marked the first day of Ramadan on June 28 by attending mosques for prayer.