The Chinese government have stepped up their crackdown on Muslims in the Xinjiang region by launching a new campaign calling for the surrender of religious items like prayer mats and copies of the Quran.
The new regulations came as part of the “Three Illegals and One Item” campaign that is underway in the north-western Xinjiang region, which has outlawed “illegal” religious items owned by Uyghur Muslims.
The campaign also bans religious activities, Islamic teachings and possessing items such as prayer mats and copies of the Quran.
Dilxat Raxit of the exile World Uyghur Congress, told Radio Free Asia (RFA): “We received a notification saying that every single ethnic Uyghur must hand in any Islam-related items from their own home, including Qurans, prayers and anything else bearing the symbols of religion.
“They have to be handed in voluntarily. If they aren’t handed in, and they are found, then there will be harsh punishments.
He added that there were reports that Kashgar, Hotan and other regions had been given the same orders last week.
Chinese authorities says it is facing threats from domestic “extremists”, however critics have accused Beijing of a broader pattern of religious discrimination, detention and abuse.
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The Uyghur Human Rights Project has asked China to respect the international human rights on freedom of religion and to end the indiscriminate targeting of Uyghurs.
In its 2016 and 2017 update, Amnesty International said the Chinese government “continued to violate the right to freedom of religion, and crack down on all unauthorised religious gatherings” in the region of Xinjiang by detaining Uyghur writers.