BEIJING , July 2 (UPI) -- China has restricted the practice of fasting during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in its western Xinjiang region, part of tightened security after attacks by suspected Uighur separatists.
Uighurs are a Muslim ethnic sect fearful of losing cultural and religious freedoms. Chinese authorities have accused, arrested, and convicted extremist Uighurs of a series of recent suicide bombings and other violent attacks in western China and in Beijing.
Several government agencies have banned their Muslim staff members from the fast accompanying Ramadan, a worldwide observance which began Saturday. An agency website noted its civil servants cannot "take part in fasting and other religious activities."
The website of Bozhou Radio and TV University in Shenzhen said party members, teachers and young people, a reference to students, were subject to the ban.
The government has blamed extremist Uighurs for expanding violence in China, and the ban will likely further harden the positions of both the government, which blames Uighurs for expanding violence, and the Uighur population, which feels its freedoms and culture are eroding.