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Xinjiang Citizens' Religious Freedom Fully Guaranteed: Scholar
   2015-07-11 08:00:47    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Wang

Several Uyghur fruit vendors sell fresh strawberries and Hami melons in the Kazanqi Folk Tourism District, Ili Kazakh Prefecture, northwest China's Xinjiang Autonomous Region, on June 11, 2015. [Photo: CRIENGLISH.com/Wang Mengzhen]

A local researcher in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region has refuted foreign reports that authorities have banned fasting and prayer during Ramadan, saying that religious freedom is guaranteed for Muslims living in the region.

CRI's Wang Mengzhen reports.

 

Some recent reports from western media have accused the Chinese government of banning fasting and other worship activities for Uyghur people in Xinjiang during the holy month of Ramadan.

But Ma Pinyan, with Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences, says those reported bans indeed never existed.

"I've been living in Xinjiang since I was born and I've never encountered the prohibitions reported by some western media outlets. I have been studying religion since the early 1980s. I visited southern Xinjiang quite often and sometimes during the month of fasting. I've never seen any place in Xinjiang where fasting is forbidden or local people are banned from worshipping."

Ma says national policies have been well implemented to guarantee religious freedom in Xinjiang and that the so-called religious discrimination does not exist.

The northwestern China's autonomous region is home to more than 12 million Muslims and over 80 percent of China's Islamic clergies. More than 2/3 of China's mosques are located there and 10 local ethnic groups follow the religion.

Ma also says that the local government has taken multiple measures, including establishing Islamic schools, to help train religious clergies.

"The government of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region established its Islamic Institution in 1986, which aims to train senior Islamic clergy, such as the imam hatips. It also set up Islamic schools in areas mainly populated by Muslim residents, like Kashgar, Khotan and Ili, which aim to train Islamic clergy for moderate to small-sized mosques. Only senior Islamic clergy are invited to give lessons. When these clergy become too old to lead worship, their students can then succeed them."

Ma adds that in a bid to meet the demand from local Uyghur, the region's government translated the Qur'an, Islam's holy book, into the Uyghur language as early as the 1980s. And in recent years, a new edition of this book, as well as some authentic collections of the Islamic Sunnah have been translated and published.

Ma says that he hopes foreign reporters could visit Xinjiang someday and discover the truth themselves.

For CRI, I'm Wang Mengzhen.

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