China’s mainly Muslim region to ban veiled robes

Two ethnic Uighur men walk in a clothing market in downtown Urumqi, Xinjiang province. (File photo: Reuters)

The regional capital of China’s restive western region of Xinjiang has introduced a law banning veiled robes in public amid measures taken by Beijing to curb Muslim extremism, authorities announced Thursday.

The law in the predominantly Muslim region comes as Beijing intensifies a campaign against religious extremism that it blames for the violence that has left hundreds dead in the past 20 months.

The new law was passed by the Urumqi legislature’s standing committee on Wednesday but needs endorsement at the regional level before going into effect.

The announcement did not clarify what is considered a veiled robe.

Authorities are targeting what they call manifestations of religious extremism, such as beards and women’s veils. Critics say they are not necessarily expressions of extremism but cultural choices by members of the ethnic Uighur minority, and that the heavy-handed measures may anger ordinary Uighurs.

The report did not further clarify what is considered a veiled robe.

Earlier this month, the northern Xinjiang city of Karamay announced that young men with beards and women in burkas or hijabs would not be allowed on public buses.

In another public campaign called “Beauty Project,” authorities banned veils and masks that cover up a woman’s face. Uighur women also are requested to tie headscarves behind their ears, instead of wrapping them around their chins, a custom authorities say is not indigenous to Uighur cultures.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:44 - GMT 06:44