Beijing is limiting the religious and cultural freedom of its Muslim population.
Karamay, a city in China’s mainly-Muslim Xinjiang region, has banned “large beards” and ‘Islamic’ clothing from public buses, reports the state-owned Karamay Daily.
The ban covers “large beards” as well as any clothing with the Islamic star and crescent, hijabs, niqabs, and burkas, said the paper. “Those who do not cooperate with inspection teams will be handled by police,” it adds.
Last month, authorities in Xinjiang’s capital, Urumqi, banned bus passengers from carrying a range of items, including cigarette lighters and yogurt. China also enforced a ban on students and government staff from fasting during the Muslim holy month of Ramzan, while officials have also tried to discourage Muslim women in Xinjiang from veiling themselves.
China announced a yearlong crackdown on terrorism following a deadly bombing in Urumqi in May. Hundreds of alleged terrorists have been arrested, and security on public transport has been tightened. Resource-rich Xinjiang is the homeland of China’s mostly Muslim Uighur minority and has been hit by a wave of clashes between locals and security forces that have killed hundreds in the past year. China has blamed several deadly attacks on civilians outside the region in recent months on “terrorists” seeking independence for the region.
Chinese state media said on Sunday that nearly 100 people, including 59 “terrorists,” had been killed in an attack in Xinjiang last week. The report came days after the government-appointed head of the largest mosque in China, in one of the region’s oldest cities, Kashgar, was killed after leading morning prayers.
Rights groups say restrictions on Uighurs’ religious and cultural freedoms have stoked tensions. The Karamay restrictions are “a typical discriminatory measure … which add to an increasing confrontation between Uighurs and Beijing,” Dilxat Raxit, a spokesman for the exiled World Uyghur Congress, said in a statement.