Washington - Deploring increasing restrictions on practicing Islam in China's Xinjiang region, a leading American Muslim group has sent a letter to the Chinese president urging him to end all state-sanctioned denial of religious freedom targeting Muslims.
"The ability of Muslims in Xinjiang to freely practice their faith is allegedly being obstructed by local authorities who routinely attempt to ban fasting during Ramadan under a state campaign to suppress Islamic religious practices and local Muslim traditions," Nihad Awad, National Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), wrote in a letter to President Xi Jinping.
"The Chinese Constitution guarantees freedom of religion to those who practice Islam. As a signatory to the United Nations Charter, the United Nation universal declaration of human rights and the United Nations international convention on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination, the People's Republic of China is responsible for ensuring that Muslims in Xinjiang and across greater China are entitled to equal protection under the law against any state discrimination and against any incitement to discrimination," the letter said.
"These acts of state religious suppression also reportedly include harassing Muslim men who grow beards and women who wear Islamic attire.
"It is also reported that Muslims under the age of 18 are prohibited from practicing their religion and that authorities impose heavy fines on families whose children study the Qur'an, Islam's revealed text, or fast during Ramadan."
"The American Muslim community and CAIR respectfully urge the People's Republic of China to uphold its own laws and international conventions by removing all barriers to religious freedom for the Muslims in Xinjiang, for Muslims throughout China and for the rights of all other people of faith in your nation."
CAIR also requested a meeting between the Chinese ambassador in Washington, D.C., and representatives of the American Muslim community and other concerned parties to discuss the issue of religious freedom.
Every year, Chinese authorities have repeatedly imposed restrictions on Uighur Muslims in the northwestern region of Xinjiang every Ramadan.
Earlier in December, China banned the wearing of Islamic veiled robes in public in Urumqi, the capital of the province of Xinjiang.
Uighur Muslims are a Turkish-speaking minority of eight million in the northwestern Xinjiang region.
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