Shohret Hoshur | Radio Free Asia [caption id="attachment_3272" align="alignleft" width="300"] A notice from the Aktash village Party Committee of Laskuy township orders shop owners to sell alcohol and cigarettes, April 29, 2015 (Photo courtesy of an RFA listener)[/caption] Authorities in northwestern China’s Xinjiang region have ordered shop owners and restaurateurs in a mainly Muslim Uyghur village to sell alcohol and cigarettes or face closure of their establishments, despite a public backlash against the products discouraged by followers of Islam, an official source said. Last week, authorities in Laskuy township, in Hotan (in Chinese, Hetian) prefecture’s Hotan county, issued an announcement in the town seat of Aktash village that “all restaurants and supermarkets in our village should place five different brands of alcohol and cigarettes in their shops before [May 1, 2015].” In addition to directing owners to create “eye-catching displays” to promote the products, the April 29 announcement stated that “anybody who neglects this notice and fails to act will see their shops sealed off, their business suspended, and legal action pursued against them.” Signed by the Aktash village Party Committee of Laskuy township, the notice stated that the order had been handed down “from the top echelons of [China’s ruling Communist Party], in order to provide greater convenience to the public.” Perhat Rozi, chairman of the Political Law Committee of Laskuy township’s party leadership, refused to comment on the announcement, but Aktash village party committee secretary Adil Sulayman told RFA’s Uyghur Service that the new policy was part of an effort to undermine Islam in the area. “We have a campaign to weaken religion here and this is part of that campaign,” he said. “Since 2012, people have stopped selling alcohol and cigarettes through their businesses. Even those who benefitted financially from the practice have given it up because they fear public scorn. That is why [the order was issued].” Sulayman said that abstention from alcohol and cigarettes had become common in Aktash and other parts of Laskuy, with some 70-80 percent of people between the ages of 16 and 45 refraining from drinking and smoking, and while there is no official rule within the Muslim Uyghur community against selling the products, doing so was considered “taboo” for religious reasons. In the Islamic faith, the Quran refers to the use of intoxicants, such as alcohol, as a “sin” and prohibited by God, while many Muslims discourage smoking cigarettes because of a reference in the holy book that instructs adherents to refrain from participating in any self-destructive practices.