Another, less whimsical Ramadan challenge

As hard as it may be to fast for 21 hours a day in Iceland (or, as I have now learned, up to 22 hours a day in St. Petersburg, Russia), it could always be harder: you could live in China’s Xinjiang Province:

China has, once again, banned Ramadan in parts of the far western Xinjiang district for Muslim party members, civil servants, students and teachers.

Muslims throughout the district – which is known to have a minority population of Uighurs – have been told not to fast during the Holy Month.

I’m not very clear on how this is supposed to work. It kind of sounds like this:

Chinese authorities are “encouraging” restaurants and shops that sell food, liquor, and cigarettes to keep their regular operating hours, but, short of force-feeding somebody (I know, I probably shouldn’t give Beijing any ideas), how can you “ban” a fast? They’re forbidding schools and civil servants from participating in the fast, but it seems to me that if a person doesn’t want to eat, there’s not much that even the Chinese government can do about it. This is the second year in a row that China has tried to ban Ramadan in Xinjiang, apparently under the belief that repressing their faith will convince the Uyghurs who live there to stop resisting Chinese, uh, repression. Sure, it doesn’t make any sense, but that appears to be the plan anyway.


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