- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Chinese authorities are cracking down on religious activities following deadly unrest in the country’s Muslim northwest, banning citizens from fasting during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

Statements posted Wednesday on websites of schools, government agencies and local party organizations in the Xinjiang region said the ban was aimed at protecting students’ well-being and preventing any official promotion of religion, The Associated Press reported.

“No teacher can participate in religious activities, instill religious thoughts in students or coerce students into religious activities,” a statement for one school in Ruoqiang County said on its website.

“Students shall not participate in religious activities; they shall not study scripts or read poems at script and choir classes; they shall not wear any religious emblems; and no parent or others can force students to have religious beliefs or partake in religious activities,” it said, AP reported.

Retired teachers in the city of Bole were called in to stand guard at mosques and prevent students from entering, the report said. Other government agencies and bureaus were asked to sign letters promising not to fast.

A ban has been implemented in the past to protect students from religious influence, but this year is slightly different because the crackdown is a security response to attacks that the government blames on Muslim extremists.

• Jessica Chasmar can be reached at jchasmar@washingtontimes.com.

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