The Chinese New Year is a major holiday. Officials take the celebration as seriously as China’s citizens. But there is one minority group of people in the country who are outraged by what the government is forcing them to do. Because Muslims do not drink alcohol or consume pork, they stay away from it. However, officials in Xinjiang have a special request of all residents – to consume pork and drink alcohol.
Raw pork was distributed to households across Xinjiang without regard to residents’ religion. Residents were also asked to come to a Lunar New Year celebration dinner where pork and alcohol were going to be served. If residents did not wish to partake in the festivities and eat pork and drink alcohol, the Chinese government was going to send “offenders” to re-education camps.
Radio Free Asia reported that residents in the Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture were invited to the New Year dinner and asked to eat the pork and alcohol. Muslims refused, so officials threatened to send them to “re-education camps” so they could learn to assimilate to the Chinese culture.
Photos showed a Chinese official visiting the household of Muslims with raw pork in tow. The official demanded that Muslims take the raw pork on the even of the Year of the Pig. There were consequences for those who did not participate. Residents were also expected to hang red lanterns and decorate their homes with couplets as part of the celebration.
Muslims living in China are not happy about what is happening. Not only are alcohol and pork forbidden by Islam, but Muslims also do not celebrate the Chinese New Year.
“Kazakh people in Xinjiang have never (eaten pork),” one person told Radio Free Asia. “Starting last year, some people have been forced to eat pork so they can celebrate a festival belonging to the Han Chinese.”
Kesay, a Muslim woman living in Xinjiang, told RFA: “Kazakhs don’t celebrate Spring Festival. Our main festivals are Eld al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. Spring Festival is for Han Chinese and people who believe in Buddhism.”
She added, “If we don’t put up the couplets or hang up lanterns, they say we are two-faced, and they send us to re-education camps.”
Kesay said that officials have delivered raw pork to about 80 percent of Muslim households since the end of 2018.
RFA is not the only source with such reports. The spokesman for the World Uighur Congress Dilxat Raxit said: “According to our information, the Chinese government is stepping up its campaign to assimilate Uighurs into Han Chinese culture. They are forcing Uighurs to celebrate Lunar New Year, to put up decorative couplets. They are also forcing Uighurs to drink alcohol, to show that they don’t subscribe to ‘extreme religious beliefs,’ and don’t disrespect traditional Chinese culture.”
Forcing a group of people to defy their religion is an outrage. With about one million Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in China held in illegal detention, they are vastly outnumbered and at the government’s mercy.
What do you think about the way the Chinese are treating their Muslim citizens?
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