China says Muslim practices to be protected during Ramadan

Officials from China's traditionally Muslim region of Xinjiang say they will not interfere with fasting and other standard religious activities during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

The officials said at a news conference Thursday that restaurants will be allowed to keep their own hours and activities in mosques and homes will be legally protected.

The restive region is home to China's Uighur minority group. Some Uighur extremists have carried out deadly attacks on civilians and the authorities in recent years. China maintains tight control over Islamic observances in the area, in part to maintain government control and stem the influence of radical Islam.

However, human rights groups and Uighurs in exile say restrictions on dress, prayer and fasting during Ramadan have exacerbated ethnic tensions and stoked resentment.