China has decided to introduce a new set of rules as part of measures to check “religious extremism” in the Uyghur Muslim-dominated region of Xinjiang, located in the country’s far west. Growing an “abnormal” beard, veiling faces in public places and “rejecting or refusing radio, television and other public facilities and services” will be banned under a new legislation, which will come into effect on April 1, Reuters reported.
The country has implemented a number of such measures to curb a supposed spike in religious extremism in recent years. According to the new rules, which were approved by Xinjiang lawmakers on Wednesday, workers in public spaces such as airports and stations will be mandated to “dissuade” people with their bodies fully covered, including those with their faces veiled, from entering the premises. They will also be reported to the police.
The new legislation also bans marriage through religious instead of legal means and meddling in the “secular lives of others” on the pretext of halal. “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 rules read. They also ban naming children with the intent to “exaggerate religious fervor”, not letting children attend regular school, disobeying family planning policies and damaging legal documents intentionally.
Xinjiang, which is home to more than 10 million members of the Uyghur Muslim minority group, often sees clashes between the Uyghurs and state security forces. Rights groups believe tensions in the region have resulted from the religious and cultural restrictions the state imposes on Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities, but Beijing has blamed the community for the unrest in the region, which has led to the death of hundreds.
The government has maintained that all the rights of the Turkic ethnic group have always been upheld. However, in June 2016, civil servants, students and children in Xinjiang had been barred from fasting during Ramzan. The ruling Communist Party, which is officially atheist, had also ordered a few restaurants to remain open.