Civil servants, students and teachers in China's Muslim northwest have been ordered to avoid traditional fasting during a holy month of Ramadan that started on June 18, Thursday.
Al Jazeera reports that China's ruling Communist party is officially atheist, therefore, it has restricted the fasting in Xinjiang, home to the mostly Muslim Uighur minority.
According to statements posted on websites of schools, government agencies and local party organizations in the region, the ban was aimed at protecting students' wellbeing and preventing use of schools and government offices to promote religion.
"No teacher can participate in religious activities, instill religious thoughts in students or coerce students into religious activities," the statement read.
It would be noted that the authorities' restriction has received widespread criticism.
Uighur rights groups noted that China's restrictions on Islam have added to ethnic tensions in the region, where clashes have already killed hundreds in recent years.
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China’s authorities stress that the country faces a "terrorist threat" in Xinjiang and blame "religious extremism" for the growing violence.
"China's goal in prohibiting fasting is to forcibly move Uighurs away from their Muslim culture during Ramadan.
"Policies that prohibit religious fasting is a provocation and will only lead to instability and conflict," said Dilxat Rexit, a spokesman of the World Uyghur Congress.
As in previous years, teachers were ordered to talk to students and explain that "during Ramadan, ethnic minority students do not fast, do not enter mosques ... and do not attend religious activities".
Meanwhile, Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari has sent a congratulatory message to Muslims, calling on them to pray for the return of peace, love and prosperity throughout the country.