Muslim Scholars Reject China's Ramadan Ban - Asia-Pacific - News - OnIslam.net
A leading international Muslim scholars union has criticized China's apparent ban on fasting the holy month of Ramadan in the Muslim dominant Xinjiang district, urging the Asian country to respect Muslim faith.
"Continuous religious and ethnic persecution over Muslims, especially in China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, is against Chinese and international law," the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS) said in a statement released last Thursday, June 25.
The Union went on to condemn Chinese government policies in the district including forcing restaurants to sell food on Ramadan days as well as forcing parents to sign on banning their children from observing the fasting month.
The statement offered no explanation as to exactly what laws it was directly referring to.
It added that the policy "is also contrary to the fourth Geneva Convention in 1949 approved by China," and called the apparent ban "a clear violation of one of the most important principles of modern international law."
The Union called on the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and other international organizations to protect Muslims.
Moreover, the IUMS warned that China's failure to offer more freedoms to Uighur Muslims will give scholars a sign to spread news among Muslims worldwide which would result in severe effect on the Chinese economy.
Every year, Chinese authorities have repeatedly imposed restrictions on Uighur Muslim in the northwestern region of Xinjiang every Ramadan.
In Ramadan, adult Muslims, save the sick and those traveling, abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex between dawn and sunset.
Earlier in December, China banned the wearing of Islamic veiled robes in public in Urumqi, the capital of the province of Xinjiang.
The law in the predominantly Muslim region came as Beijing intensified its so-called campaign against “religious extremism” that it blames for recent violence.
Earlier in 2014, Xinjiang banned the practicing of religion in government buildings, as well as wearing clothes or logos associated with religious extremism.
Last May, Muslim shops and restaurants in a Chinese village in northwestern Xinjiang have been ordered to sell cigarettes and alcohol or face closure.
PAKISTAN hosts about 400 Somalis including Luul Yusaf Ali who has been residing in the country with her daughter Idil since 2013. Even though her UNHCR card indicating her refugee status helps her to a certain extent, her situation is pitiable.—Photo by writer
AS the power cuts off, light from a large window illuminates Luul Yusaf Ali’s one-room apartment in a narrow alley overlooking the Islamabad High Court. The neighbourhood isn’t exactly upscale, but Luul and her daughter Idil have made it a home.
Two mattresses and a water cooler are their most extravagant possessions; they were left to them by a widow. The rest of their belongings are arranged neatly to one side; a few clothes, a pink and black prayer mat, two copies of the Quran in Somali, some toiletries and Luul’s medicines.
Luul lost her 12-year-old son Abdullah Ali when the fighting broke out in their hometown of Mogadishu in 2008. After fleeing the conflict in her homeland in 2013, the mother came to Karachi in the employ of a Somali family, while the daughter followed later that same year. Luul used to clean the apartments of Somali students to earn a meagre living, but with her deteriorating health, that is no longer possible.
For them, getting away from Somalia has not meant escaping the oppression they faced back home. Both mother and daughter only step out of their house when their three Somali student flatmates are not at home. The 16-year-old Idil has faced harassment at their hands before and now, Luul does not let her daughter leave unaccompanied.
It is a hapless existence; there is no integration with their Pakistani surroundings. There is nothing for them to do so they stay indoors as much as possible.
Luul’s own condition is deteriorating. Speaking in Somali through Ahmed Mukhtar — an interpreter and agitator from the Somali community who has been in Pakistan for nearly 20 years — she narrates her painful road to where she is now. Beaten and robbed by the warring militias in Mogadishu and raped by a Somali man in Karachi, her only concern now is to keep her daughter safe.
It also appears that the socio-economic inequalities of Somali society have found their way to the back alleys of Islamabad; Luul says that most of the men who harass Somali women are from the ethnic majority clans in Somalia.
Mukhtar, 42, says that Somali women who live without the protection of a male relative face sexual harassment, mostly from Somali men — both refugees and students. “Some form of rape takes place,” he says and explains that some of the women give in to the men’s demands in exchange for food or money.
Even though the International Catholic Migration Commission — an organisation that works with UNHCR — gives refugees free medicine, Luul’s situation is dire. “I cannot take my medication because I have not eaten for over 24 hours now.”
This is hardly surprising. Without a source of income, she only has the Rs10,800 allowance afforded to her by the UN refugee agency. Of that, the room rent alone is Rs8,000.
In many cases, the allowance is discontinued by UNHCR. It is a cruel twist of fate that keeps many of these refugees from improving their living conditions. “Assessment officers look at what we are eating and look at the cleanliness of our bed linen and decide our fate. The cleaner the bed linen, the higher the chances of the allowance being discontinued,” says Mukhtar.
He says that Zakat from Pakistani businessmen could help the Somalis this Ramazan, but Luul is not as optimistic. As the power comes back, I see my interviewee’s face clearly for the first time. She quickly moves to wipe her cheeks; she has been silently sobbing the entire time.
When asked to comment on the plight of these refugees, UNHCR claimed that there was little to no donor interest in the Somalis. “Donors are focused on refugees who face life-threatening conditions. Somalis are in the ‘protracted refugee’ category and not a priority. Third-country resettlement [in their cases] is very strict as just one per cent cases out of all 55 million refugees in the world are allotted resettlement.”
Other than Afghans and about 400 Somalis, Pakistan also hosts nearly 150 refugees from Iran, Iraq and Chechnya. Refugee-friendly legislation may help them win more rights in Pakistan, but until then, they will always struggle to fit in and become integrated with Pakistani society.