Chinese authorities, known for their discretion and cultural understanding, have ramped-up an anti-veil campaign in the country’s Xinjiang Muslim communities. It’s not like Uyghurs have been, say, blaming recent violent outbursts on cultural repression or anything.
There are a handful of disclaimers that should come with this story, so let’s just take care of those now. 1) Cultural repression doesn’t justify, but definitely can cause, violent incidents like last month’s Tiananmen square attack and 2) Mandatory veils certainly infringe upon a woman’s rights to individuality and expression.
With that said, it is still hard to imagine that this action at this time is anything other than a deliberate response by the government to recent anti-CCP anti-China sentiments coming from the Western provinces, and it’s an attempted anti-extremist campaign that will primarily affect non-extremist, innocent people.
The new campaign, titled “Project Beauty” (i.e.”Project Make-Everyone-Look-Han”) has been gaining criticism since the instant it was rolled out, as the AFP reports:
Offenders were made to watch a film about the joys of exposing their faces, she added, speaking behind a white crocheted covering.
“The movie doesn’t change a lot of people’s minds,” she said, like others declining to be named. […]
“For the Chinese government the causal process is: the Islamic extremists ask for independence, ask for separatism, then that’s why they set very strict limits on Uighurs’ religious activities,” said Shan Wei, a political scientist at the National University of Singapore.
“For the Uighurs’ part, it’s: ‘OK, I wasn’t involved in any political movements, I’m not a separatist at all, but you set so many stupid restrictions on my daily religious activities that I hate you’,” he added, pointing out that China’s other Muslim minorities did not face such rules.