This photo taken on February 27, 2017 shows a Chinese military policeman attending an anti-terrorist oath-taking rally in Hetian, northwest China’s Xinjiang. (Photos by AFP)
China has banned long beards and face covering veils in the western region of Xinjiang which is home to around 10 million Uighur Muslims.
The new measures, which came into effect on Saturday, put restrictions on refusing “radio, television or other public facilities and services,” marrying using religious ceremonies, home schooling of children, and “naming of children to exaggerate religious fervor.”
“They’re doubling down on security in Xinjiang,” said James Leibold, an associate professor at Australia’s Le Trobe University, who has done extensive research on the Muslim minority.
China claims that new regulations are required to battle “extremism” but rights groups have referred to such restrictions as being repressive.
Over the past few years, Xinjiang has been the scene of clashes which China blames on the Uyghurs who in turn claim they face cultural and religious repression and discrimination.
Some foreign-based members of the community also claim Beijing is cracking down on the Turkic-speaking ethnic minority.
Similar restrictions have been already been in place in the province, but this is the first time that they have been legally sanctioned.
In March, Chinese President Xi Jinping called on military forces to erect a “Great Wall of Steel” around the restive region.
During a parliamentary session, he urged authorities to work to bring “lasting peace and stability” to the border region.
Rights groups have long complained that China’s restrictive policies have led to escalated ethnic tensions in Xinjiang, where clashes between government forces and locals have left hundreds killed over the past years.
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