Chinese authorities in the northwestern predominantly Muslim region of Xinjiang have ordered all Muslim families to hand in religious items including prayer mats and all copies of the quran.
RFA Officials across Xinjiang have been warning neighborhoods and mosques that ethnic minority Uyghur, Kazakh and Kyrgyz Muslims must hand in the religious items or face harsh punishment if they are found later, sources in the region said.
“Officials at village, township and county level are confiscating all Qurans and the special mats used for namaaz[prayer],” a Kazakh source in Altay prefecture, near the border with Kazakhstan told RFA on Wednesday. “Pretty much every household has a Quran, and prayer mats,” he said.
Dilxat Raxit, spokesman for the exile World Uyghur Congress group, said reports have emerged from Kashgar, Hotan and other regions of similar practices starting last week.
“We received a notification saying that every single ethnic Uyghur must hand in any Islam-related items from their own home, including Qurans, prayers and anything else bearing the symbols of religion,” Raxit said.
“They have to be handed in voluntarily. If they aren’t handed in, and they are found, then there will be harsh punishments,” he said.
China force Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang to turn in passports.
In China, Muslim men under the age of 65 are not allowed to have beards, Muslim women are not allowed to wear face-covering headbags or burqas.
Muslims in China are now forbidden from giving their babies religious names such as “Jihad,” “Islam,” “Mecca,” etc.
China bans Islamic religious activity of any kind in schools.
China bans Muslim civil servants and students from fasting during Ramadan.