Jan 13, 2015

East Turkestan: Burqas Banned in Regional Capital

In the atmosphere of tensed relationships between China and East Turkestan, an autonomous Uyghur region, the Chinese authorities decided to ban burqas in public places in the capital of the region. Officials from the People’s Congress agreed to the ban, as they considered it to be non-traditional Uyghur dress.

Below is an article published by DNA:

China on Saturday [10 January 2015] banned burqas in public places in the capital of its Muslim-majority Xinjiang region which is often hit by separatist violence, a day after regional authorities prohibited extremist content on the web to prevent radicalisation of youths. Authorities in the regional capital Urumqi cited France and Belgium, where the Islamic garment worn by Muslim woman to cover themselves from head-to-toe, has been banned.

The legislature of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region approved a regulation banning burqas stating that it is not a traditional dress for Uyghur women. Officials of the regional People's Congress told the official Xinhua news agency today [10 January 2015] that the regulation will go into effect after being amended. It was drafted by municipal legislature of Urumqi last year.

The regulation is seen as an effort to curb increasing extremism that forced Uygur women to abandon their colourful traditional dress and wear black burqas, the news agency reported. On Friday [9 January 2015], the province banned religious extremist and terror-related content on the Internet. Officials said the ban would be helpful in weeding out Islamist content out of the web and prevent radicalisationof the youth.

The regulation followed increased violent attacks by the banned East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), whose pronounced aim is to fight for a separate Xinjiang, which borders Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and Afghanistan. China has launched massive crackdown on the ETIM, an al Qaeda-backed outfit reportedly having bases in Pakistan's tribal areas.

ETIM has been active in the Xinjiang, a resource-rich region long inhabited by the Turkic-speaking, largely ethnic Muslim Uygurs who number 11 million. The province witnessed riots for several years following Uygur resentment about increasing settlements of Han Chinese from other provinces.

Critics, including exiled Uygur activists, have attributed the rise of violence in the region to China's increasingly repressive rule -- a claim the government vehemently denies.


An Alternative Report submitted by UNPO to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) also documented the prohibition of religious practice as form of cultural expression.