A court in China’s volatile Uighur Muslim region of Xinjiang has sentenced a man to six years in prison for ‘provoking trouble’ by growing a Muslim-style beard, a practice discouraged by local authorities. The man’s wife was also given a two-year prison sentence for disobeying the ‘NO Headbag’ rule.
Tribune The law in the predominantly Muslim region comes as Beijing intensifies a campaign against religious extremism that it blames for the violence by Uighur Muslims that has left hundreds of Chinese dead in the past 20 months.
In August, the northern Xinjiang city of Karamay announced that young men with beards and women in burqas or hijabs would not be allowed on public buses.
The man “had started growing his beard in 2010″ while his wife “wore a veil hiding her face and a burqa”, the paper said. For more than a year the authorities in Xinjiang have been campaigning against men growing beards – a practice officials associate with extremist ideas.
A campaign dubbed “Project Beauty” also encourages women to leave their heads bare and abandon wearing the veil, a relatively widespread practice among the Uighurs – the main Muslim ethnic group in Xinjiang.
The Kashgar couple had “received several warnings” before being charged, the newspaper reported, citing local officials. “Since the beginning of the year, a certain number of people breaking the regulation on beards, veils and burqas have been prosecuted and sentenced,” officials in Kashgar were quoted as saying by the paper.
Violence increased last year and at least 200 people were killed in a series of bombings and deadly clashes with security forces, blamed by Beijing on “separatists” and “religious extremists”.
In April last year authorities in Xinjiang’s Shaya county offered cash to informants to report on neighbours with excessive facial hair. China has also made it difficult for certain Muslim groups to observe the month of Ramadan fast.