In China’s northwest Xinjiang region, the top ranked authorities of China’s ruling Communist Party have ordered all Muslim business owners in the area of Aktash to sell five different brands of alcohol and cigarettes in “eye-catching displays,” according to a report by Radio Free Asia (RFA).
Noncompliance may result in store closure and prosecution.
Alcohol, among other intoxicants, is widely considered “haram,” or sinful, in Muslim culture, a prohibition that many Muslims also extend to tobacco. Uighurs, or Uyghurs, a Muslim ethnic minority group in China, have long been in conflict, often violent, with Chinese authorities.
China has launched a series of “strike hard” campaigns to fight separatism and terrorism and “weaken religion.” According to The Washington Post, government employees and children have been barred from attending mosques or observing the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. In many places, women have been barred from wearing face-covering veils, and men discouraged from growing long beards.
In the village of Aktash in southern Xinjiang, Communist Party official Adil Sulayman, told RFA that many local shopkeepers had stopped selling alcohol and cigarettes from 2012 “because they fear public scorn,” while many locals had decided to abstain from drinking and smoking. Sulayman said authorities in Xinjiang viewed nonsmoking Muslims as adhering to “a form of religious extremism.” They issued the order to counter growing religious sentiment that was “affecting stability,” he said.