BEIJING: Chinese authorities banned most Uyghurs from praying in mosques, and even in their homes, during the Eid-ul-Fitr holiday, in many parts of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, as per the residents and the police, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported.
During Eid, which fell on April 20-21 this year, people aged 60 and older were allowed to pray in a local mosque under heavy police surveillance, sources said.
China has since 2017, restricted or banned ethnic customs and religious rituals among the mostly Muslim Uyghurs in what they say is an effort to stamp out "religious extremism."
Authorities in Xinjiang during Eid patrolled city streets and searched houses to prevent people from secretly praying inside their homes, according to sources, RFA reported.
An administrative staffer from Yarkowruk town in Akesu Prefecture said one mosque there was open for Eid prayers.
"Our police officers went to the mosque to watch the people. I don't know if people needed permission to go to the mosque because I did not go there," the employee said.
An officer at the local police station said that only one mosque was open for Eid prayers in Bulung town, Bay county, though only residents over 60 years old were allowed to pray if they wanted.
The government issued a notice that people younger than 60 could not pray on the Eid holiday, the officer said.
Only a dozen Uyghur elders in Bulung attended Eid prayers in a mosque as three police officers and several auxiliary police staffers observed and wrote down the Uyghurs' names, said the officer from the town's police station, according to RFA.
"The mosque was open yesterday, and we went there to surveil people," the police officer said, adding that he told residents under 60 not to go to the mosque.
A woman from a residential area in Maralbexi county in Kashgar Prefecture said none of her neighbours or relatives held Eid prayers or celebrations.
"The mosque was not open," she told RFA. "My husband is a policeman, and he went to work on Eid. There was no Eid-ul-Fitr prayer here. It was quiet."