Chinese authorities have ordered Muslim shop owners and restaurateurs in a mainly Muslim Uyghur town to sell alcohol and cigarettes in attractive displays, despite a public backlash against the products discouraged by followers of Islam.
China’s Xinjiang region is home of Turkic-speaking, Muslim Uyghurs. Many locals in Aktash and in some areas of Laskuy who practice Islam have abstained from drinking and smoking, and selling or consuming of these products is considered forbidden in Islam.
The notice, distributed in Muslim majority locality, ordered all restaurants and supermarkets in Aktash to sell five different brands of alcohol and cigarettes and display them prominently. “Anybody who neglects this notice and fails to act will see their shops sealed off, their businesses suspended, and legal action pursued against them,” the notice said.
The Washington Post reported that Adil Sulayman, Aktash village party committee secretary, told RFA’s Uighur Service that Chinese authorities in Xinjiang region viewed nonsmoking Muslims as “a form of religious extremism.”
The Quran refers to the use of alcohol and any intoxicants or self-destructive practices as a sin and prohibited by Allah, while some Muslim religious leaders have also forbidden smoking.
The ongoing campaign to weaken Islam in Xinjiang includes the banning of Muslim children from attending mosques or observing the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which begins June 17 this year. As part of the campaign, women are banned from wearing face-covering veils and men discouraged and punished on having beards.
In recent years, China’s communist government has launched a series of “strike hard” campaigns in Xinjiang in the name of religious extremism.
The targets of these operations, the Turkic-speaking, Muslim Uyghurs minority, complain of pervasive ethnic discrimination, Anti-Islam, and cultural suppression by China authorities.
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