The Islamic face veil is to be banned in public in the capital of China’s restive Xinjiang region, home to its Uighur Muslim minority. The ban was backed by local authorities in Urumqi, state media reported. The move is the latest in a campaign against Islamic clothing and symbols in the mainly Muslim region.
China’s government has blamed Uighur militants for several recent attacks – but activists say the violence has been fuelled by Chinese repression. The Uighurs traditionally practice a moderate form of Islam. Recently, though, the influence of stricter forms of the faith from the Gulf and Pakistan has led to more women covering their faces.
According to the BBC’s Asia Pacific editor, Charles Scanlon, the Chinese authorities regard wearing an Islamic face veil as an act of defiance at a time of growing violence in the region. In August this year, the northern city of Karamay banned men with long beards from boarding buses.
Some experts believe such restrictions could backfire at a time when many Uighurs believe their culture is under attack. – BBC