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Muslims ordered to sell alcohol in China’s Xinjiang region

Shopkeepers and restaurant owners are faced with closure unless they comply with a new rule given by  Chinese authorities regarding the sale of alcohol.

Muslim Uighur men in China’s Xinjian Province

In an attempt to “undermine Islam’s hold on local residents” and curb “extremism”, Chinese authorities have commanded Muslim business owners to sell “five different brands of alcohol and cigarettes” and promote them in “eye-catching displays”, said a report from Radio Free Asia (RFA).

China has faced widespread disapproval over its repressive rule in the mainly Muslim province in Xinjiang and for escalating the violence between ethnic Uighurs and Chinese security forces.

Critics say China’s long repression of Uighur rights and nationalist sentiment has pushed people toward Islam as the only permitted assertion of their community’s identity, and pushed a minority towards extremism.

As a retaliation, China has only increased its campaigns to “weaken the hold of Islam” in the western region and last week, decreed that any shopkeeper or restaurant owner not complying with the new rule will face closure or prosecution.

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.

However, he followed on to say that around 60 shops and restaurants in the area had complied with the government order and as yet, there were no reports of protests.

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