Civil servants, students and children in a Muslim majority region in China have been barred from fasting during Ramadan, government websites said. In the last week, several local government departments in Xinjiang posted notices on their websites imposing restrictions on fasting during the holy month, which began on Monday. The ruling Communist Party, which is officially atheist, also ordered that some restaurants remain open, AFP reported.

Xinjiang, which is home to more than 10 million members of the Muslim Uighur minority group, often sees clashes between Uighurs and state security forces. Rights groups believe tensions in the region have resulted from the religious and cultural restrictions the state imposes on Uighurs and other Muslim minorities.

A Uighur official has directed officials to “resolutely stop party members, civil servants, students and minors from entering mosques for religious activities” during the month of Ramadan. The Communist Party has banned government employees and minors from fasting in Xinjiang for years. Chinese citizens face tight religious restrictions, despite the state claiming they have freedom of belief.