Muslims celebrate end of Ramadan in China

Beijing (China Daily/ANN) - Muslims in China celebrated the end of Ramadan, the month of fasting, yesterday.

Thousands of people crowded the Niujie Mosque in Beijing's Muslim quarter for Eid ul-Fitr, or the Fast-Breaking Festival. Some people arrived several hours early for a group prayer at 10 a.m. Despite scorching heat, many people stood outside the halls and some brought their own carpets.

Traffic control was conducted on Niujie Street in front of the mosque, and vehicles were not allowed to pass on yesterday morning. Four bus lines diverted their routes from the area. Several ambulances and police cars were on standby.

In the Ningxia Hui autonomous region, more than 2.2 million Hui Muslims enjoy four days off from during the weekend to Tuesday to celebrate the festival.

In the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, 1,000 metric tonnes of additional meat products were supplied last week to ensure more than 11 million Muslims in the region could celebrate the occasion at affordable prices.

In China, 10 ethnic groups follow Islam and observe Eid ul-Fitr.

During this Ramadan, Muslims have donated 3 million yuan (US$472,000) to nursing homes, the Chinese Islamic Association said at a reception at the Great Hall of the People yesterday.

The call for donations during Ramadan was the association's first nationwide charity initiative. The effort will be followed by a philanthropic week in September, said Chen Guangyuan, president of the association.

In an announcement in March, the State Administration for Religious Affairs encouraged faith-based groups to engage in more charitable work and set preferential policies such as subsidies and tax reductions for the establishment of foundations, nursing homes and hospitals.

The association's donation campaign for nursing homes succeeded with the support of Muslim business and imams who gave endorsement lectures. Many mosques, lower-level Islamic associations and individuals gave money and living necessities to seniors, said Guo Chengzhen, vice-president of the association.

The association gave 100,000 yuan to improve services and facilities at a nursing home for ethnic groups in Wuhan, capital of Hubei province, when Chen and Guo visited there on Aug. 2.

Jiang Dan, from the Red Cross Society of China, said religious groups will have a greater role to play in charity work, and the Red Cross will work further with the Islamic association on a broader range of issues.

More than 200 people attended the reception, including Vice-Premier Hui Liangyu, Muslim entrepreneurs and embassy diplomats from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran.

Han Xingwang, 58, is from Xunhua Salar autonomous county in Qinghai province. He invests in construction, hydroelectric power, real estate and tourism projects.

Han has received numerous national awards as a philanthropist in disaster relief, poverty reduction and welfare for the elderly.

He donated 300,000 yuan to the association in response to its call for donations for nursing homes. He also promised 4 million yuan, which will ensure 1,100 elderly people in his province receive a monthly allowance of between 400 and 800 yuan, and will provide college tuition for 70 students, including Salar, Hui, Tibetan and Han students.

"There are many ethnic groups in my hometown. I want to help these people regardless of their ethnicity and religion," Han said.

US$1 = 6.3 Chinese yuan

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