Babies born in the mostly Muslim Xinjiang province of China can no longer be given certain Islamic names by their parents. Therefore, if a baby is named Muhammad, Islam, Quran, Mecca, Jihad, Imam, Saddam, Hajj, Medina, Arafat, Mujahid, or any other names on the list of more than two dozen banned monikers, the child will suffer lifelong consequences, because they will not be permitted to officially be registered with the government. This would exclude them from getting a public education, getting employment and generally participating in society.
Communist governments typically consider religion a threat, and Islam is no exception. According to Radio Free Asia (RFA), a series of terrorist attacks in recent years has caused the Chinese government to impose a series of initiatives to limit Islamic practices, such as “abnormal” beards, and wearing veils in public.
“Just stick to the party line, and you’ll be fine,” said a Chinese official, explaining, “You’re not allowed to give names with a strong religious flavor, such as Jihad or names like that. The most important thing here is the connotations of the name. … [It mustn’t have] connotations of holy war or of splittism [Xinjiang independence].”
Fearing Islamic terrorism, the government implemented mandatory GPS tracking on all cars and trucks registered in Bayingol, Xinjiang. “Cars are the major means of transportation for terrorists and also a frequently chosen tool to conduct terrorist attacks. So it’s necessary to use the Beidou system and electronic vehicle identification to enhance the management of vehicles,” stated officials.
China has also implemented measures to universalize language in the country, promoting Mandarin – Beijing’s main language and that of the Han ethnic majority – in places where Cantonese, Uighur, and Tibetan are more common tongues. The government refers to Mandarin as the “common tongue” and has moved to eradicate other languages from local schools.
In January, Xinjiang announced new border security measures, as well. Xinjiang borders Pakistan and Afghanistan, homes to a variety of Islamic terrorist groups to which Uighur terrorists may flee. The main terrorist group operating in Xinjiang is the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), which aspires to establish an Islamic State in Xinjiang.
Communist Party officials in Xinjiang have long been banned from publicly observing the Ramadan fast. The law requires shopkeepers in Xinjiang to sell multiple brands of alcohol and cigarettes, items banned by Islamic practice.
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