China continues to crack down on religious rights by banning names with a strong Muslim connotation.
Names such as Islam, Quran, Saddam and Mecca, are unacceptable to the ruling Communist party in Xinjiang since April 1. Children with these names will be denied household registration, a crucial document that grants access to social services, health care and education, according to The Guardian.
“This is just the latest in a slew of new regulations restricting religious freedom in the name of countering ‘religious extremism,’” said Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch. “These policies are blatant violations of domestic and international protections on the rights to freedom of belief and expression.”
A similar ban was made two years earlier in the Southwest region of Xinjiang, but now it has been spread towards the North, affecting a much larger Uighur population, which is a minority ethnic group in the area, according to Fox News. China views this as terrorism prevention. Top officials, including Xinjiang’s Communist Party chief, have publicly said radical Islamic thought has infiltrated the region from Central Asia, creating a bloody, years-long insurgency which claimed hundreds of lives.
“If the government is serious about bringing stability and harmony to the region as it claims, it should roll back – not double down on – repressive policies,” Richardson said.
Uighur activists and human rights groups believe this ban to be a form of religious repression, as stated in The Guardian. They also claim that the attacks are isolated incidents caused by local grievances, not by a larger widespread organization.
“In setting limits on the naming of Uighurs, the Chinese government is in fact engaging in political persecution under another guise,” said Dilxat Raxit, spokesman for the exiled World Uighur Congress group.