The government of Xinjiang has announced a crackdown on 15 types of behavior that are connected with “religious extremism” — including the wearing of “abnormal” beards or veils.
Passed by Xinjiang’s top legislative body on Wednesday, the regulation fails to explain what exactly would make a veil or beard “abnormal.” Presumably residents will find out when the legislation takes effect on Saturday.
Other manifestations of “religious extremism” in daily life include: refusing to listen to state radio or watch state television, as well as preventing children from receiving a national education. South China Morning Post lists some more vaguely-worded things to watch out for:
According to the regulation, resorting to religious instead of legal procedures to marry or divorce or meddling in other people’s weddings, funerals and inheritance are all prohibited extremist acts.
Other actions include interfering with or sabotaging the enforcement of family planning policies, and deliberately damaging national identity cards, household registration books or the Chinese currency.
Applying the concept of Halal in non-food-related areas or using it to intervene in other people’s secular lives is also considered an extremist act, according to the regulation.
Special task forces will be set up across the Muslim-majority region to watch out for these kinds of “extremist” behaviors and each prefecture, district and locality will have their success at stamping out “extremism” evaluated annually.
Of course, religious and culture bans are nothing new in the restive region of Xinjiang. In recent years, Uighur Muslims have complained about a number of measures that they say discriminate against their religion by cracking down on religious holidays and customs.
In 2013, Xinjiang authorities launched the “Project Beauty” campaign aimed at encouraging Uighur women to stop wearing veils, and, in 2015, a Kashgar man was sentenced to 6 years in prison for growing his beard. Both practices have long been linked with harboring extremist ideals and thinking.
While China has said that these kinds of hard-line policies are necessary for maintaining peace and stability in the region, international observers have instead blamed them with fueling tensions, driving more Uighurs to terrorist groups like the Islamic State who released a video last month promising to “shed blood like rivers” in China.
This latest regulation likely comes in response to a surge of violence in the region recently which also saw more than 10,000 Chinese troops march through the streets of Urumqi last month as a grandiose show of force. During this month’s legislative meetings in Beijing, Chinese President Xi Jinping met with top Xinjiang officials and called for the building of a “Great Wall of Iron” around the region.
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