The Chinese government has banned dozens of common Islamic names in Xinjiang province, a Muslim-majority area, saying it could “exaggerate religious fervour”, Radio Free Asia reported. Names such as Quran, Saddam, Islam, Medina, Hajj, and Jihad, among many others, have been banned under the “Naming Rules For Ethnic Minorities” rules introduced by the Chinese Communist Party, RFA reported, quoting an unidentified official.

Children with banned names will not be eligible to obtain a “hukou” – household registration that is essential for accessing public school education and other services, the report added. “The most important thing here is the connotations of the name ... [it should not have] connotations of holy war or of splittism,” RFA quoted an unnamed police official as saying.

Xinjiang province is home to over 10 million Muslim Uyghurs – a Turkic ethnic group, Human Rights Watch reported. This is seen as another move by the government in the crackdown on the alleged “religious extremism” in Xinjiang. The move comes days after Xinjiang authorities prohibited the wearing of “abnormal” beards or veils in public places, and refusing to watch state TV or radio programmes.

“These policies are blatant violations of domestic and international protections on the rights to freedom of belief and expression,” HRW China Director Sophie Richardson said.

In recent months, there has been an increase in violence in Xinjiang province, reported Reuters. Last month, an Uyghur official in Xinjiang was fired for holding her wedding ceremony at her home instead of a government venue, reported RFA. Home weddings could promote unsanctioned religious leaders to spread “deviant” views, which may contradict ethnic unity and the sovereignty of the country, an official told RFA.