Chinese authorities in the northwestern region of Xinjiang are delivering pork to Muslim households during the Lunar New Year holiday, and forcing some Muslims to drink alcohol, eat pork, and display emblems of traditional Chinese culture, RFA has learned.
Residents of the Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) told RFA that officials had invited them to celebratory dinners marking the Lunar New Year at which pork was served, then threatening to send them to a "re-education" camp if they refused to take part.
Photos - RFA - Official - Ili - Yining
Photos sent to RFA also showed an official from Ili's Yining city visiting Muslim households and distributing raw pork, in the name of helping the less well-off on Monday, on the eve of the Year of the Pig.
An ethnic Kazakh resident of Altay's Qinggil (in Chinese, Qinghe) county told RFA that the attempts to make Muslims eat pork had begun late last year.
Kazakh - People - Xinjiang - Pork - Resident
"Kazakh people in Xinjiang have never [eaten pork]," the resident said. "Starting last year, some people have been forced to eat pork so they can celebrate a festival belonging to the Han Chinese."
A Kazakh woman who gave only a single name, Kesay, said Muslims don't usually celebrate Spring Festival, another term for the Lunar New Year using the traditional Chinese calendar and horoscope.
Kazakhs - Spring - Festival - Festivals - Eid
"Kazakhs don't celebrate Spring Festival," she said. "Our main festivals are Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. Spring Festival is for Han Chinese and people who believe in Buddhism."
Pork and alcohol are forbidden by Islam, and the celebration of Chinese festivals has roots in polytheistic folk religion, which includes Buddhist iconography. Muslims honoring such festivals risk committing the unforgivable sin of espousing more than one god.
Muslims - Uyghurs - **** - Kazakhs - Kesay
"Muslims like us, the Uyghurs, the ****, and the Kazakhs, don't do that," Kesay said. "But people have been sticking up New Year poetic couplets at...
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