China clamps down on Muslims, banning veiled robes

It comes as Beijing steps up a campaign against Islamic extremism, which it blames for violence that has left hundreds dead in the past 20 months.

BEIJING // The capital of China’s restive Xinjiang region has introduced a law banning veiled robes in public amid measures to curb Islamic extremism.

The ban was passed by Urumqi legislature’s standing committee on Wednesday, but needs endorsement at the regional level before going into effect.

It comes as Beijing steps up a campaign against Islamic extremism, which it blames for violence that has left hundreds dead in the past 20 months.

Xinjiang is a predominantly Muslim region, and home to the Turkic-speaking Uighur Muslims who have complained of China’s repressive rule and their economic disenfranchisement under a government dominated by the majority Han Chinese.

As part of efforts to clamp down on violence in the north-west region, China is targeting what they call manifestations of religious extremism among Uighurs. This includes beards and women’s veils.

In August, the north Xinjiang city of Karamay announced that young men with beards and women in burkas or hijabs would not be allowed on public buses.

As part of another campaign, called Project Beauty, authorities have banned veils and masks that cover up a woman’s face. Uighur women are also requested to tie headscarves behind their ears instead of wrapping them around their chins, a custom authorities say is not indigenous to Uighur cultures.

Police have also raided women’s dress shops in Xinjiang and confiscated full-length robes.

Muslims make up about 1.8 per cent of China’s population. In Xinjiang, non-Muslim ethnic Han Chinese account for 41 per cent of the population.

* Associated Press

Published: December 11, 2014 04:00 AM

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