CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 11 August 2018

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Negatives in China positives in Middle East during Ramadan

URUMQI (AsiaNews): Observing the fast for the holy month of Ramadan was banned by the government for all public officials, members of the Communist Party, students and children in the Uyghur majority province of Xinjiang in the north-west of China.

An instruction, published on various government websites says that people in these categories “should not fast and should not take part in the religious activities.”

There are about nine million Turkic-speaking ethnic Muslim Uyghur people in Xinjiang and resentment of Communist domination of the province and its colonisation by Han Chinese, which has made them a minority of the population, runs high.

Although the government always rejects accusations of restricting the practice of religion, Beijing has imposed many restrictions on religious practice in the area under the guise of the fight against Islamist terrorism.

Restaurants and grocery stores in Muslim majority areas have been put under close watch since the beginning of Ramadan on June 6 to ensure that they do not follow the usual custom of closing during the prescribed hours of the fast.

The instruction says that they “must remain open, so that the great majority of the population can have normal access to places of refreshment.”

It is believed that the Qur’an was presented to the holy prophet, Muhammad, during the month in which Ramadan is marked by not eating during daylight hours,

However, in trouble-torn Iraq, the fast has taken on a peace-making overtone. Archbishop Louis Sako described it as an opportunity to practice compassion and love.

“In such harsh and worrying circumstances that have troubled the country, leaving thousands dead and wounded; millions of displaced people and huge destruction, I urge you to make this month an exceptional Ramadan by renouncing sectarianism and fundamentalism, building a culture of reconciliation, promoting shared values of tolerance, neighbourhood and friendship, as well as endorsing peaceful coexistence, dialogue and mutual respect,” he wrote in what he called a Letter to Muslims.

In Jordan, Caritas is marking Ramadan by handing out free meals for the breaking of the fast in the evening as part of the Jubilee of Mercy.

A similar initiative in Amman has been dubbed by the local Caritas office the Restaurant of Mercy. Meals are served by volunteers.

In Jordan, food is being offered to families in need of assistance and medical research is being done on appropriate foods for breaking the fast, as abstaining from eating for long periods of time in hot climates creates health problems.

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