Beijing – “Abnormal” beards, headscarves, religious weddings and funerals instead of those civilians, and many other actions considered to be “manifestations” of religious extremism are now prohibited in Xinjiang, under a law passed three days ago in the western region inhabited by the minority Uighurs, a Turkic and Muslim origin.
This law is part of the campaign in place for years to stop what the Chinese government considers a threat of terrorism and separatism.
The campaign is growing in intensity and violence since Chen Quanguo became party secretary in Xinjiang instead of the moderate Zhang Chunxian at the behest of President Xi Jinping in the summer of 2016,.
Under the new law it will even be illegal refuse to watch television or the state radio or withhold one’s children from receiving national public education. The new law lists at least 15 behaviors of daily life that are considered a sign of “extremism.” Among these: using religious procedures, rather than legal, for weddings or divorces; meddling in how other people celebrate weddings, funerals, execute wills and divide inheritance; damage of population control programs; damage to identity cards or banknotes; applying the concept of “halal” (purity) in fields not related to food and interfering in the secular life of others.
This law is an attempt to “legalize” directives that have long been in place in the region, such as the prohibition to young people under the age of 18 from attending mosques; requirement for students to break the Ramadan fast; of control over sermons delivered in mosques.
Xinjiang has about 22 million inhabitants, of which nearly 10 million are Uighur ethnicity and of Muslim faith. In a response to past separatism, China has implemented a massive Han colonization program and strengthened the military who have occupied all economic and administrative positions in the autonomous “region.” The fear of “religious fundamentalist pollution” from Afghanistan and Pakistan has led the fight against “terrorism” and justified many violations of human rights and religious freedom as anti- terrorism measures.