Sunday, June 4, 2017

China: Muslim children forced to drop 'religious' names in Xinjiang region


In April authorities banned certain names for newborns that were deemed to have religious connotations, but the new order expands forced name changes to anyone under 16, the age at which Chinese citizens are issued a national identity card.

Times of Ahmad | News Watch | UK Desk
Source/Credit: The Guardian
By  Benjamin Haas | June 3, 2017

Muslim children in China’s far western Xinjiang region are being forced to change their “religious” names and adults are being coerced into attending rallies showing devotion to the officially atheist Communist party.

During Ramadan, the authorities in Xinjiang have ordered all children under 16 to change names where police have determined they are “overly religious”. As many as 15 names have been banned, including Islam, Quran, Mecca, Jihad, Imam, Saddam, Hajj, Medina and Arafat, according to Radio Free Asia.

In April authorities banned certain names for newborns that were deemed to have religious connotations, but the new order expands forced name changes to anyone under 16, the age at which Chinese citizens are issued a national identity card.

The order coincided with millions gathering at 50,000 individual rallies across Xinjiang this week to pledge allegiance to the Communist party. More than a quarter of the region’s population sang the national anthem at 9am on 29 May and pledged allegiance to the Communist party, according to state media reports.

Xinjiang’s Muslims mostly belonging to the Uighur ethnic group, a Turkic people. The region has occasionally seen sporadic violence which China blames on international terrorist groups. But overseas observers say the vast majority of incidents are a result of local grievances.

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