The capital of China’s Muslim-dominated western region of Xinjiang has introduced a law banning Muslim veiled robes in public amid measures taken by Beijing to curb Muslim ‘extremists.’ The law in the predominantly Muslim region comes as Beijing intensifies a campaign against ‘religious extremism’ that it blames for the violence that has left hundreds dead in the past 20 months.
UyghurAmerican “This fits into the larger pattern, keeping up with the trend in the past five years that has really intensified in the last year by the government to try to forcibly reshape and standardize the type of garment among the Uighur females,” said James Leibold, a scholar of ethnic policies at Australia’s La Trobe University. “It polarizes the tensions even further, and you get violent push-back,” Leibold said, noting that acts of unveiling Uighur women have been met with resistance in Xinjiang.
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. In another public campaign called “Project Beauty,” authorities have banned veils and masks that cover up a woman’s face.
Uighur women also are requested to tie headscarves behind their ears, instead of wrapping them around their chins, a custom authorities say is not indigenous to Uighur cultures. Police also have raided women’s dress shops in Xinjiang and confiscated full-length robes.
The government is rightly suspicious of Islam, and has tried to discourage traditional Muslim practice in the Xinjiang autonomous region. The government also banned prayer meetings and other religious practices in government buildings, schools and business offices. Religious activities will now be restricted only to take place in registered venues like mosques. The bans went into effect as of Jan. 1.