Two newstories one from China and one from France indicate that Islamophobia is now a worldwide phenomenon.
China Bans Muslim officials and students from fasting during Ramadhan in Xinjiang Region
BEIJING (AFP) – Authorities in China’s restive northwestern region of Xinjiang have banned Muslim officials and students from fasting during Ramazan, prompting an exiled rights group to warn of new violence. Guidance posted on numerous government websites called on Communist Party leaders to restrict Muslim religious activities during the holy month, including fasting and visiting mosques. Xinjiang is home to around nine million Uighurs, a Turkic speaking, largely Muslim ethnic minority, many of whom accuse China’s leaders of religious and political persecution.
The region has been rocked by repeated outbreaks of ethnic violence, but China denies claims of repression and relies on tens of thousands of Uighur officials to help it govern Xinjiang. A statement from Zonglang township in Xinjiang’s Kashgar district said that “the county committee has issued comprehensive policies on maintaining social stability during the Ramazan period. “It is forbidden for Communist Party cadres, civil officials (including those who have retired) and students to participate in Ramazan religious activities.” The statement, posted on the Xinjiang government website, urged party leaders to bring “gifts” of food to local village leaders to ensure that they were eating during Ramazan.
French Summer Workers Fired over Ramadan Fast
A town council in southwestern France has fired four Muslims hired to work in a summer sport camp for fasting during the month of Ramadan.
The men employed by the town council of Genevilliers just outside Paris were dismissed on July 20, the first day of Ramadan, under the pretext of endangering the children’s safety by not drinking or eating from dawn to dusk.
On Tuesday, France’s main Muslim organization, the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM), slammed the Genevilliers council decision as “arbitrary and discriminatory”.
“Religious freedom is a fundamental right and you cannot in any circumstances ban someone from practicing their religion,” a spokesman for the CFCM, Abdallah Zekri said.
The four workers and the CFCM are now planning to sue the town council for discrimination
“How can you judge the capacity of someone to do their job on the basis of their religious practice?” a lawyer representing the four sacked workers, Mohand Yanat said.
French Town reverses firing 4 camp workers for fasting during Ramadan
A French town hall has tried to justify sacking four Muslim holiday-camp workers for not eating in the daytime because of Ramadan, then reversing its policy in the face of a national scandal.
By Tony Todd (text)
A French town hall backtracked on Tuesday after it emerged that four Muslim holiday-camp instructors had been sacked for daytime fasting during Ramadan.
The four, from Paris suburb Gennevilliers, were part of a larger team supervising local children attending a camp in south-western France. On July 20 [the first day of Ramadan this year, a month when Muslims fast in the day and feast after dark] an inspector noticed that they weren’t eating with their colleagues and the children, a requirement written into their contracts. The four workers were fired on health and safety grounds, although they were paid in full for the remaining week of their contracts. They plan to contest their dismissal in France’s labour courts.
The clause requiring them to eat and drink regularly was added after an incident in 2009 when a holiday camp worker fell asleep at the wheel of a minibus which crashed, seriously injuring two teenagers. It reads: “The instructors will make sure that they, as well as the children [in their care] will eat and take fluids, especially at mealtimes, so as to be in full possession of their faculties.” “We did respect our contracts,” camp-worker Amir told left-leaning daily Libération on Wednesday. “We ate properly and took in enough fluids, once in the morning and then once again in the evening.”
A ‘false debate’
On Tuesday Gennevilliers’ Mayor Jacques Bourgoin said the clause was being dropped for the month of August. The following day the Communist-run town council justified its initial decision to fire the workers on the basis of an inquiry into the 2009 accident, which found that the minibus driver had “probably” fallen asleep at the wheel because she hadn’t eaten properly. [Please click here to read the remainder of the story.|