RFA: Xinjiang’s Kashgar University Students, Teachers Forced to Give up Muslim Dietary Restrictions

Officials at a university in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region are forcing students and staff to forgo their Muslim dietary restrictions in favor of traditionally pork-heavy Han Chinese cuisine, saying halal food is associated with religious extremism.

A report recently published on the official website of Kashgar University, in the XUAR’s Kashgar (in Chinese, Kashi) prefecture, detailed an Oct. 22 meeting entitled “Remain Committed to Removing Extremism From Eating,” during which deputy secretary of the school’s Communist Party committee Ji Peng announced that all students and staff must swear an oath to “follow Chinese food culture.”

Ji informed students and staff that integrating cuisine would “promote exchanges” and “foster prosperity and development” between all ethnic groups, and called on them to “stand firm” in fighting against “pan-halalism,” which he called a tool of the “three evil forces” of “terrorism,” “extremism,” and “separatism,” used to promote their agenda in the name of religion.

Muslims are barred under their religion from consuming non-halal items such as pork, alcohol, blood, and the meat of animals that have not been slaughtered based on religious practices.

The details of the Oct. 22 meeting were made public amid recent reports that Chinese authorities have closed down all halal restaurants on university campuses in the XUAR and had initiated a campaign to remove halal signage from restaurants owned by Muslims in the region.

When asked by RFA’s Uyghur Service for further information about the new policy, a staffer at Kashgar University immediately hung up the phone.

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