A university in China has imposed a ban on religious practices on campus during the Muslim holy month Ramadan, arguing that Islamic activities like prayer “disturb public order,” Chinese state media revealed Tuesday.
The ban comes after Radio Free Asia reported this week that authorities in China’s Xinjiang province, primarily inhabited by the largest Muslim community in the country, are forcing Islamic students to sign a pledge not to fast during Ramadan, the holiest month for Muslims.
In February, China unveiled revised regulations on religious affairs that prohibit “religious practices and activities in schools and other educational institutions, except at religious schools,” the state-owned Global Times noted.
Alleging that the changes embrace people’s “right of freedom of religion,” Beijing mandates that the only “venues for religious activities include temples, churches and other fixed places. Other gathering places should be determined by the religious affairs departments of province-level governments.”
“School staff [is] responsible for keeping religious activities out of the campus, as the school is not a religious site,” Xiong Kunxin, a professor at Beijing’s Minzu University of China, told the Global Times on Tuesday.
The professor reportedly stressed, “Though religious freedom is a constitutional right in China, religions should be practiced in accordance with the law and should not affect the lives of non-believers.”
Communist China’s President Xi Jinping has vowed to make China more Chinese and less religious.
School staff is reportedly responsible for enforcing the religious ban at educational facilities.
“Northwest Minzu University does not allow any religious activity on campus because of the principle of separation of education and religion,” Gao Zhiping, a top spokesman for the institution in Gansu’s capital city Lanzhou, told the Global Times.
“Aside from members of the Communist Party of China or Communist Youth League of China, students have the right to practice their beliefs in accordance with law at religious sites outside the campus,” Gao added.
Some students have allegedly complained that praying by Muslim students has “severely disturbed” their studying.
They have also accused the university of “allowing the religion to infiltrate the campus,” Global Times reported Tuesday, acknowledging that the university spokesman “denied the existence of such complaints, insisting the university strictly bans religious activities. “
The university is located in Gansu, which borders the largest province in China, Xinjiang — home to the predominantly Muslim Uighur (or Uyghur) minority group in the communist country.
Human rights groups have long accused Beijing of persecuting the Uighurs, allegedly using the threat of terrorism as a pretext.
Communism is inherently atheist. President Xi’s administration has stepped up its oppression activities against religious groups, mainly Muslims and Christians, in recent years.
Beijing has imposed some of the most intrusive laws in the world to keep tabs on Muslims in Xinjiang, which borders Afghanistan and the restive Pakistan-controlled Kashmir region, among other countries.
Islamic terrorist attacks tend to increase during the holiest month for Muslims, Ramadan. Many jihadists believe that becoming a martyr during the ongoing month is exceptionally rewarded and blessed.