China ‘forces Muslims to eat pork and drink alcohol’ during country’s festival

Muslims in a region of China are being made to eat pork and drink alcohol during the country’s lunar new year holiday, it has been claimed.

Residents in Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture, northwest China, have allegedly been invited to festive events at which pork has been served.

It’s said they are being threatened with being sent to a "re-education" camp if they refuse to take part.

One resident told Radio Free Asia (RFA) : “Kazakh people in Xinjiang have never [eaten pork]. Starting last year, some people have been forced to eat pork so they can celebrate a festival belonging to the Han Chinese."

Pork and alcohol are strictly forbidden in Islam.

Muslims, also known as Uyghurs, do not usually celebrate the lunar new year holiday, also called the Spring Festival.

"Our main festivals are Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha.

"Spring Festival is for Han Chinese and people who believe in Buddhism,

"If we won’t put up the couplets or hang lanterns, they they say we are two-faced, and they send us to re-education camps," another resident said.

The celebration of Chinese festivals has roots in folk religion, which includes Buddhist images and artwork.

But it’s claimed Chinese authorities have ordered all households in Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture, Muslims included, to put new year decorations outside their homes.

Dilxat Raxit, spokesman for the exile group World Uyghur Congress, said: "According to our information, the Chinese government is stepping up its campaign to assimilate Uyghurs into Han Chinese culture.

"They are forcing Uyghurs to celebrate Lunar New Year, to put up decorative couplets.

"They are also forcing Uyghurs to drink alcohol, to show that they don’t subscribe to ‘extreme religious beliefs’ and don’t disrespect traditional Chinese culture."

Beijing initially denied the existence of re-education camps.

But Shohrat Zakir, the chairman of the area’s government, said in October that the facilities are an effective tool to protect the country from terrorism and provide vocational training for Uyghurs.

In February last year, a previous report claimed Muslims in the same region had been forced to take part in new year celebrations.

These claims again included accusations Muslims ate food that was forbidden.

It comes after government officials in the huge nation were caught on camera beating dogs – sometimes to death – on city streets.

The gruesome torture in the Hangzhou area was a result of dog owners being banned from walking their pets from 7am to 7pm.

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