Chinese authorities ban “five types” of Muslims from Xinjiang’s public transport

Muslim Uighur women

Chinese officials in Karamay have banned the wearing of the hijab, niqab, burqa and “youths with long beards” from public transport until the end of a local sports event.

The prohibition on the Islamic dress code would last until 20 August.

In a report by the Karamay Daily, which was carried by national media outlets, officials listed “five types of people” who would be banned from public transport.

They are Muslims wearing headscarves (hijab), veils (niqab), burqas, clothes with the star and crescent moon symbol, and “youths with long beards”.

“Passengers who do not co-operate, particularly the ‘five types of people’, will be reported to the police,” said the report, which added that all commuters would be subject to bag checks.

“The security measures will ensure social stability and protect the lives, property and safety of citizens of all races,” said the report.

The province of Xinjiang, which is home to the Muslim Uighurs, has witnessed an increase in violence in recent months.

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The latest unrest in Xinjiang took place on 28 July in Yarkant County, also known as Shache.

Chinese state-run news agency Xinhua said a group armed with knives and axes stormed a police station and government offices. It said 37 civilians and 59 attackers were killed

But a Uighur human rights group has disputed that account, saying that police had opened fire on people protesting against a Ramadan crackdown on Muslims.

Reports surfaced last month that government departments in Xinjiang were banning Muslim staff from fasting during Ramadan.

Xinjiang comprises a large part of western China and is rich in oil reserves and gold mines.

It has a Muslim majority population, most of whom are Uighurs of Turkic origin. They speak the Turkic-Uighur language and are culturally distinct from the Han Chinese.

Muslim presence in China dates back centuries. There are even reports of Sa’ad ibn Abi Waqas (ra), a relative and companion of the Prophet Muhammad (saw), travelling to China and inviting the Chinese emperor to Islam. The Great Mosque of Guangzhou, which still exists today, is thought to have been built by Sa’ad (ra).

Muslim presence in China was relatively calm until the Manchu (Qing) dynasty began persecuting Muslims for their religion. The Muslims rebelled against the Manchu government a number of times but the rebellions were brutally crushed.

Matters got worse under the Communist government of Mao Zhedong when Islam was specifically targeted, many mosques and Islamic schools were closed and Muslims were tortured and killed.

Although the current Chinese government claims to offer fair and equal treatment to its Muslim population, Muslims in Xinjiang have been victims of systemic discrimination and persecution for some years now.

The government has clamped down on the Uighur’s religious practices under the guise of “fighting extremism”.

However, the deadliest violence that occurred in recent times in Xinjiang was in 2009 that led to the death of over 150 people and more than a thousand being injured.

Many Muslims have disappeared since then and their families are still being harassed by security forces.

Campaigners for Uighur rights have said China’s policies towards the ethnic group in Xinjiang are repressive.

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