Chinese province Xinjiang has decided to ban the islamic veil (burqa, niqab) and long extremist beards, officials say, in an effort to prevent religious fanaticism. China, from a communist background, has generally rejected all religions, and considers this one to be particularly dangerous.
There is a population of Muslim Chinese who live in the western province of Xinjiang, called the Uighurs. They claim they they are frequently discriminated against by the Han Chinese.
The details on “veil” were not specific, but it appears that full face veils are banned. It is unclear if hijabs are banned as well. The language in the bill also banned other “extremist” signs, but again, was vague on what those would be considered.
NBC News has more:
It is unclear what other forms of dress, if any, are outlawed under the legislation which was passed by the Xinjiang People’s Congress last week. The policy is seen to discriminate against Muslims.
The definition of veil was vague but it appeared the niqab, which covers the face, and burka, which covers the face and body, would be included under the ban. It was unclear if the hijab, scarves which cover the head, are forbidden.
The law also failed to explain what constituted an “abnormal” beard or name, but suggested that they encouraged “religious fanaticism.”
According to regional officials the policy harks back to speech by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2014, in which he said religious extremism of “ethnic separatists” in Xinjiang threatened national security.
Addressing a party workshop on Xinjiang in Beijing Xi said separatists “severely damage the stability of Xinjiang, as well as national security with religious extremism as their ideological basis, violent terror as the main method, and national division as their ultimate goal.”
Xinjiang, which borders Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Pakistan and Afghanistan, has long seen tensions between the native Turkic Muslim Uighurs and the majority Han Chinese.
In the last decade the province has been beset by violence which the government blames on Islamist radicals or separatists.
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.