China imposes restictions on Uighur Muslims fasting
Chinese authorities in the northwestern province of Xinjiang have banned Muslim officials and students from fasting during the month of Ramadan, prompting an exiled rights group to warn of new violence.
Guidance posted on numerous government websites called on Communist Party leaders to restrict Muslim religious activities during the holy month, including fasting and visiting mosques.
Xinjiang is home to about nine million Uighurs, largely a Muslim ethnic minority, many of whom accuse China’s leaders of religious and political persecution.
The region has been rocked by repeated outbreaks of ethnic violence, but China denies claims of repression and relies on tens of thousands of Uighur officials to help it govern the province.
A statement from Zonglang township in Xinjiang’s Kashgar district said that “the county committee has issued comprehensive policies on maintaining social stability during the Ramadan period.
“It is forbidden for Communist Party cadres, civil officials (including those who have retired) and students to participate in Ramadan religious activities.”
The statement, posted on the Xinjiang government website, urged party leaders to bring “gifts” of food to local village leaders to ensure that they were eating during Ramadan.
Similar orders on curbing Ramadan activities were posted on other local government websites, with the educational bureau of Wensu county urging schools to ensure that students do not enter mosques during Ramadan.
During Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn to dusk and strive to be more closer to God, pious and charitable.
An exiled rights group, the World Uyghur Congress, warned the policy would force “the Uighur people to resist [Chinese rule] even further.”
“By banning fasting during Ramadan, China is using administrative methods to force the Uighur people to eat in an effort to break the fasting,” said group spokesman Dilshat Rexit in a statement.
Xinjiang saw its worst ethnic violence in recent times in July, 2009, when Uighurs attacked members of the nation’s dominant Han ethnic group in the city of Urumqi, sparking clashes in which 200 people from both sides died, according to the government.
Remember those who are being persecuted this Ramadan
by Ludovica Iaccino
While many of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims are preparing to celebrate Ramadan, the month of fasting, there are some who will not be free to acknowledge the most sacred month of the Islamic calendar.
IBTimes UK looks at some of the countries where Muslims are persecuted for their beliefs and also looks back at examples of persecution of Muslims throughout history.
Muslims are currently persecuted in:
The Rohingya are a Muslim minority, originally from Bangladesh, who live in the predominantly Buddhist of Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) .
Buddhist extremists refuse to acknowledge the Rohingya and claim they are Bengalis who belong in neighbouring Bangladesh.
A New York Times short documentary broadcast this month, shows how Myanmar authorities confine the Rohingya to ‘quasi-concentration camps’ or to their own villages, with reduced/minimal access to medical care and education.
More than 230 people have been killed in religious violence in Myanmar since June 2012 and more than 140,000 have been displaced.
Central African Republic (CAR)
The CAR conflict has pitted Muslim Seleka forces against Christian Anti-Balaka militias since the overthrow of former president Francois Bozize, a Christian, by Muslim Michel Djotodia in 2012.
The two have continued to engage in tit-for-tat violence resulting in more than 2,000 deaths and hundreds of thousands of displacements since.
Thousands of Muslims have fled Christian-majority areas as sectarian violence continues to rise.
“We didn’t want the Muslims here and we don’t want their mosque here anymore either,” Christian looter Guy Richard told news agency AP after more than 1,200 Muslims had fled the capital Bangui.
The Uyghur people are a Turkic Muslim minority living in the autonomous region of Xinjiang, known also as East Turkestan, in China.
The Uyghurs are subjected to religious discrimination by the Chinese government.
Since the founding of the Republic of China in 1912, some Uyghurs have demanded complete autonomy from the Chinese government.
Former Chinese leader Mao Zedong launched an anti-rightist campaign in 1957, aimed at purging dissidents and critics of the government. The campaign was believed to have also targeted the Uyghur nationalists.
During the Great Leap Forward Campaign (1958-1962), hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs fled Xinjiang to Soviet Union, due to a widespread famine.
China accuses Uyghur militants of waging a violent campaign for an independent state; however, Beijing is often accused of exaggerating Uyghur’s extremism to justify its religious crackdown on the Muslim minority.
Muslims have been often felt persecuted in India – the world’s largest Islamic community – by the Hindu majority.
Between 50,000-200,000 Muslims were believed to have been killed in pogroms in Hyderabad in 1948, during the Partition crisis.
Since independence, India has always maintained a constitutional commitment to secularism but Muslim-Hindu conflict hasd never been far from the surface. Since then, India has witnessed sporadic large-scale violence sparked by underlying tensions between sections of the Hindu and Muslim communities.
The sense of communal harmony between Hindus and Muslims in the post-partition period was compromised greatly by the razing of the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya. The demolition took place in 1992 and was perpetrated by the Hindu Nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Last month, Narendra Modi, the leader of the BJP, was sworn in as India’s new prime minister. Questions still persist over PM Modi’s role in the 2002 Gujarat riots, when up to 2,000 Muslims were killed in religious riots. Human rights groups and the media have accsued Modi, who led the the Gujarat government at the time, for inflaming the violence and not protecting the Muslim community form the mob.
In November 2013 Angola ordered the shutdown of all mosques and declared Islam illegal.
Minister of culture Rosa Cruz e Silva called Islam a “sect” which would be banned as counter to Angolan customs and culture.
Muslims account for less than 1% of the population of 19 million, while more than half of the former Portuguese colony in south west Africa subscribe to Christianity.
Clashes between the two communities are frequently reported in the local media. Muslims, many of whom migrated from west Africa and Lebanon, often face hostility from lawmakers.
UK: “rising tide” of attacks on Muslim women
By: Mark Townsend
More than half of Islamophobic attacks in Britain are committed against women, who are typically targeted because they are wearing clothing associated with Islam, new data reveals.
The figures of anti-Muslim attacks, compiled in the nine months following the murder of soldier Lee Rigby in May 2013, come days after Saudi Arabian student Nahid Almanea was stabbed to death in Essex, with detectives believing that she may have been attacked because she was wearing traditional Islamic clothing.
In a study of calls to the Tell Mama hotline, which records Islamophobic crimes, academics at Teesside University found there were on average two incidents every day over the period.
Victims reported a total of 734 incidents to the hotline between the start of May last year and 28 February 2014, broken down into 599 incidents of online abuse and 135 offline attacks – an increase of almost 20% on the same period the previous year.
One aspect of the figures indicates an apparent lack of trust in police to deal with Islamophobic incidents, with one in six victims choosing not to report the incident to authorities.
The Teesside report, published by the first research unit in Britain dedicated to the study of the far right and its opposition, says more effort is required to foster greater trust between the Muslim community and authorities.
“Supporting victims and encouraging them to come forward to report a hate crime remains the highest priority,” the report says. “Alongside addressing under-reporting, authorities should be encouraged to disaggregate hate crimes by strand, and to take seriously the increased incidence of anti-Muslim hate crime.”
The data also revealed that – unlike most incidents of hate crime, which overwhelmingly involve male perpetrators and victims – 54% of the victims of Islamophobia were female.
One theory is that Muslim women are more “visibly” Muslim because of traditional clothing such as the hijab or abaya. The figures show that four in five victims attacked in the street or elsewhere were females wearing visibly Muslim clothing; almost the same proportion of alleged perpetrators offline were young, white men.
Incidents reported to Tell Mama leapt after the murder of Rigby, with nearly four times more reports during the week following the attack than the previous week – although the number of incidents reduced in the months thereafter.
However, the report says that Islamophobia and its negative impact on community relations remains an ongoing concern. “Throughout spring 2014, there were heightened levels of both online and offline incidents reported to Tell Mama. At this time, many people in Britain felt frightened and victimised,” it says.
Overall, the data are in contrast to the trend for hate crime, with government figures showing the number of reported attacks falling.
Other findings from the report confirm that a significant number of incidents reported to the hotline involved a link to far-right groups such as the English Defence League. A far-right connection was traceable in almost half of reported Islamophobic online abuse.
An online link to the far right was readily detected through recognisable slogans such as the EDL’s “NFSE” (No surrender ever), hashtags linked to far-right groups, avatars or recurring far-right phrases including neo-Nazi phrases.
In a previous report by the Teesside University centre, it was claimed that a small number of far-right activists were responsible for a significant proportion of online hate incidents targeting British Muslims.