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China Bans Burqas And Beards In Xinjiang Province

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The Chinese government has issued several regulations for Muslims in its Xinjiang province, including restrictions on children's names and a ban on burqas and beards.

Women who wear full face and body coverings will be prohibited from entering public spaces and men will be prohibited from "abnormal growing of beards," reports The Independent. Muslim parents will be prohibited from giving their children names that "exaggerate religious fervor," but did not give specifics.

In addition, it will be forbidden to "reject or refuse radio, television and other public facilities and services," marry one another according to religious, rather than government-approved, procedures, and use "the name of Halal to meddle in the secular life of others."

The state-controlled media also told parents how they should raise their children to avoid them becoming religious extremists.

"Parents should use good moral conduct to influence their children, educate them to revere science, pursue culture, uphold ethnic unity and refuse and oppose extremism," the government notice stated.

China's Xinjiang province borders Pakistan and other Muslim-majority nations, including Kazakhstan. The province is home to the Turkic-speaking Muslim Uighur minority, who make up about 8 million of the province's 19 million people, according to BBC News. The province also has among the greatest concentration of China's Muslim population, The Independent notes.

As a result, the region has seen crackdowns on its predominant religion by the Chinese government before. The burqa ban was first initiated in 2015 when the region's ethnic Han legislators voted against the the face-covering garment, according to CNN.

"Burqas are not traditional dress for Uygur women, and wearing them in public places is banned in countries such as Belgium and France," stated a report by the state-controlled media outlet, Xinhua News. "The regulation is seen as an effort to curb growing extremism that forced Uygur women to abandon their colorful traditional dress and wear black burqas."

The Chinese government has focused on the Xinjiang's Muslim population to find terror suspects, resulting mass profiling of innocent people, The New York Times reports.

"All of us have become terror suspects," said a 23-year-old Uighur engineering student who said he was detained overnight in November 2015 after police found he had recently communicated with a friend in Turkey. "These days, even receiving phone calls from overseas is enough to warrant a visit from state security."

The crackdown on everything from communications to clothing have frustrated many in the region.

"Me, myself, I’m not religious, but forcing our women to take off their head scarves is an affront to their dignity and makes many people angry," said a Xinjiang resident who asked The New York Times to remain anonymous for fear of punishment by the government.

Sources: The Independent, CNN, BBCThe New York Times, Xinhua News / Photo credit: Tom Thal/Flickr

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