Riposte of China on Islam
By Rashmi Jain
China officially guarantees freedom of religion, but authorities have issued a series of measures in the past few years to tackle what it sees as a rise in religious extremism. Chinese authorities have passed measures banning "abnormal" facial hair and many typically Muslim customs in the remote Xinjiang region. The initiative also makes it illegal to "reject or refuse" state propaganda. The debate takes in religious freedom, female equality, secular traditions and even fears of terrorism. The veil issue is part of a wider debate about multiculturalism in China, as many politicians argue that there needs to be a greater effort to assimilate ethnic and religious minorities.
China has introduced new restrictions in the far western region of Xinjiang in what it describes as a campaign against Islamist extremism.
The most visible change, however, is likely to come from the ban on "abnormal growing of beards," and the restriction on wearing veils. Specifically, workers in public spaces, including stations and airports, will be required to "dissuade" people with veils on their faces from entering and report them to the police.
In recent days, authorities have introduced similar bans in some places or violence-prone cities in the massive and remote north-eastern region. Not all of those measures were strictly enforced. The new set of regulations, however, applied to all of Xinjiang.
The measures include prohibiting "abnormally" long beards, the wearing of veils in public places and refusing to watch state television. This is not the first time regional officials have tried to ban veils or beards. In 2014 the north-western city of Karamy banned people wearing head scarves, veils and long beards from boarding buses.
China has banned burqas, veils and “abnormal” beards in a predominantly Muslim province in what it claims is a crackdown on religious extremism. They believe in that “Guardian should use good moral conduct to influence their children, educate them to revere science, pursue culture, uphold ethnic unity and refuse and oppose extremism.”
It also focuses on to not allow children to attend regular school, not abiding by family planning policies and deliberately damaging legal documents.
Successively it leads to "extremist behaviours" that have previously been introduced in the areas of Xinjiang, including stopping people with headscarves, veils and long beards from boarding buses in at least one city.
The rules also state that workers in public spaces, such as stations and airports, are now required to "dissuade" those who fully cover their bodies, including veiling their faces, from entering, and to report them to the police.
The restrictions were approved by Xinjiang lawmakers .Chinese authorities had previously imposed other measures, including restrictions on granting passports to Uighurs.
Xinjiang, China’s westernmost region, is home to the Uighurs, a Muslim group which claims to face discrimination from the Han Chinese.
The government strongly denies committing any abuses in Xinjiang and insists the legal, cultural and religious rights of Uyghur.The popularity of Islamic veils including the niqab and burqa, which cover the face, has been rising among Uyghurs in recent years, in what experts say is an expression of opposition to Chinese controls.
Human Rights Watch’s 2017 world report accused Beijing of increasing “restrictions on fundamental human rights and pervasive ethnic and religious discrimination”, noting that details of “counter-terror”.
Local authorities have previously banned Muslim civil servants, students, and teachers from fasting and instructed restaurants to stay open during the holy month of Ramadan.
China insists it respects the rights of the Muslim Uighur people, but a number of restrictive laws have been put in place in recent years. Individual cities and villages have variously outlawed fasting for Ramadan, attending mosques, wearing face veils, growing long beards as well as requiring shopkeepers and restaurant owners in one village to sell alcohol and cigarettes.