Muslims throughout the district – which is known to have a minority population of Uighurs – have been told not to fast during the Holy Month.
Adult & Healthy Muslims are required to fast from dawn to dusk during the holy month, which began on Thursday, but China’s ruling Communist party is officially atheist and for years has restricted the practice in Xinjiang, home to the mostly Muslim Uighur minority.
“Food service workplaces will operate normal hours during Ramadan,” said a notice posted last week on the website of the state Food and Drug Administration in Xinjiang’s Jinghe county.
Officials in the region’s Bole county were told: “During Ramadan do not engage in fasting, vigils or other religious activities,” according to a local government website report of a meeting this week.
The Uighur leader, Dilxat Raxit, sees the move as China’s attempt to control their Islamic faith and warned that the restrictions would force the Uighur people to resist the rule of the Chinese government even more.
He added: “The faith of the Uighurs has been highly politicised and the increase in controls could cause sharp resistance.”
In recent years, Chinese authorities have blamed separatist Uighurs for a string of terrorist attacks on civilian crowds and government institutions, but the group has consistently denied involvement.
Activists have long-accused Beijing of exaggerating the threat as an excuse to impose restrictions.
Mr Raxit told Radio Free Asia: “They [the Chinese government] are extracting guarantees from parents, promising that their children won’t fast on Ramadan.”
According to the government’s website, halal restaurants near the Kazakh border are being encouraged by food safety officials to stay open during daylight hours in Ramadan.
The education bureau of Tarbaghatay city, known as Tacheng in Chinese, this month ordered schools to communicate to students that “during Ramadan, ethnic minority students do not fast, do not enter mosques … and do not attend religious activities”.
Similar orders were posted on the websites of other Xinjiang education bureaus and schools .
China says it faces a “terrorist threat” in Xinjiang, with officials blaming “religious extremism” for the growing violence.
Shops and restaurants owned by Muslins have also been ordered to continue selling cigarettes and alcohol over the course of the month – or face a Permenant closure .
Beijing is continuing to crack-down against ‘religious extremism’ although human rights groups call it ‘religious repression’, adding that authorities want to prevent Muslims from ‘instilling religion’ into public bodies.
The ruling party says religion and education should be kept separate and students should not be subject to ‘religious influences’, although this rule is rarely enforced for children of Han Chinese, who – if they have a religion – are mostly Buddhist, Daoist or Christian.