China bans children in predominantly Muslim province from attending Quran classes

Chinese authorities have banned school pupils in a predominantly Muslim province in western China from attending Quran classes during the winter break.

The district education bureau stated in a notice posted online that school children in Linxia County in the Gansu province, which is home to 1.6 million Muslims, are prohibited from entering religious buildings over their winter break.

Students must also not read Islamic scriptures in classes or in religious buildings, the bureau said, adding that all students and teachers should heed the notice and “work to strengthen political ideology and propaganda”.

The Linxia Education Bureau has declined to comment on the document’s validity.

Xi Wuyi, a Marxist scholar at the state-backed Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and an outspoken critic of Islam, shared the picture and welcomed the apparent move by the authorities.

Last October, new regulations on religious affairs were released and are due to take effect in February, which are aim at increasing oversight of religious education and limit religious activities.

Chinese law formally claims to grant religious freedom for all, but regulations on education and protection of minors also say religion cannot be used to hinder state education, or children taught to believe in a religion besides communism.

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