China bans burqas in Xinjiang region

The new regulation is seen as an effort to curb growing extremism

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Muslim women in China’s Xinjiang region have been banned from wearing the burqa in public places, the government-run news website was quoted by local Tianshan News as reporting this week.

The ban was first proposed in December by local legislators in Urumqi, the capital city of Xinjiang, where Muslims account for almost half the population.

It is still not clear when the new legislation will go into effect.

The burqa is a traditional Muslim garment that covers a woman head to toe, including her face.

Explaining the new ban, Xinhua, the state-run news agency said: “The regulation is seen as an effort to curb growing extremism that forced Uighur women to abandon their colorful traditional dress and wear black burqas.”

“Burqas are not traditional dress for Uygur women, and wearing them in public places is banned in countries such as Belgium and France.”

The city is not the first place to ban women from wearing burqas.

France banned wearing the burqa in public in April 2011 and Belgium followed three months later. Italy and the Netherlands also restrict wearing clothing that hides a person's identity.

In July 2014, China’s Xinjiang region had banned civil servants, students and teachers from fasting during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

The authorities in Xinjiang have also restricted men from having long beards, clamped down on religious education activities, and acted to control the entrances and exits to mosques.

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