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China issues list of Islamic baby names banned for Xinjiang's Muslims

Updated April 25, 2017

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— file photo.
— file photo.

The Chinese government has banned dozens of Muslim baby names in the Muslim-majority Xinjiang province, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported.

Names such as Islam, Quran, Mecca, Jihad, Imam, Saddam, Hajj, and Medina have been banned, RFA said, citing a Chinese Communist Party document titled 'Naming Rules for Ethnic Minorities'.

"[People with banned names] won't be able to get a household registration," a police official from Urumqi, Xinjiang, was quoted as saying.

Home to Uighur Muslims, Xinjiang has been at the center of the Chinese government's drive to combat 'extremism'.

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Various rights groups have blamed the ruling Chinese Communist Party for infringing upon its population's right to religious freedom; however, the Chinese government has rejected allegations of abuse.

Dilxat Raxit, spokesman for the exiled World Uyghur Congress group, while speaking to RFA, said the Chinese government is continuing to suppress traditional Uyghur culture by controlling what Uyghurs can call their children.

"In setting limits on the naming of Uyghurs, the Chinese government is in fact engaging in political persecution under another guise," he said, adding; "They are afraid that people with such names will become alienated from Chinese policies in the region."

The move to ban certain 'over-the-top' Muslim names in Xinjiang is being seen as a consequence of China's top legislative body announcing a set of 50 regulations to combat extremism last month.

It was reported earlier this month that restrictions on Xinjiang's Muslims had expanded to include a prohibition on wearing veils in public places and refusal to watch state television.

In a press release issued by the Chinese director of Human Rights Watch (HRW), Sophie Richardson criticised the government's crackdown on Xinjiang's Muslims, stating that "the government’s farcically repressive policies and punishments are hardly solutions. Instead, they are only going to deepen resentment among Uyghurs.”

“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,” she said.