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China replaces textbooks, bans Muslims from using mother tongue in schools

Thursday August 3, 2017 10:49 PM, IINA

China Muslims

Authorities in China's Xinjiang region have banned China's Muslims from using their language in schools, and also ordered to replace Uyghur textbooks with Chinese books.

Last month, the Hotan government in north western China prohibited the use of the Uighur language from being used in schools including pre-school.

The new move comes after strict restrictions on Muslims in the region including a ban on fasting during Ramadan. Before that the Chinese authorities had banned Muslims from using Islamic baby names.

The move was announced in a notice on the website of Xinjiang's Hotan region.

It said that the use of the Uyghur language was banned from pre-school, all the way to secondary school.

The notice claimed that the move aimed to 'fully popularise the common national language'. Signs around the schools also have to be in Mandarin.

The move will come into effect in September, in time for the new school semester.

An Uyghur official told Radio Free Asia that 'even the Uyghur textbooks will be replaced with Chinese textbooks from inland China.'

The news was confirmed by the World Uyghur Congress who say that the ban is currently in place in one prefecture of Xinjiang province. However, it's not unlikely that the ban could spread province wide in the future, Mail Online News reported.

Xinjiang is home to 10.37 million Uyghurs who practice the Muslim faith. It is a four-and-a-half-hour flight from Beijing.

Many Muslims in the country say they feel victimised by the government who have tightened control on the region.

In November 2016, China ordered that residents of Xinjiang return their passports to their local police station for it to be kept there. Those wishing to use their passports have to apply to the local police station for the return of their documents.

While earlier this year, fasting during Ramadan was banned and restaurants were forced to stay open.

"The Communist Party has been pushing “bilingual education” over the past few years, but in reality, it seems as that the real goal is to encourage Mandarin while hollowing out the role of the Uighur language, and in the long run, presumably weaken Uighur identity as a potential unifying, political force", William Nee, researcher at Amnesty International told MailOnline.

"However, many Uighurs are extremely concerned that their language and culture is being systematically suppressed, so this type of heavy-handed policy has the potential to backfire", he added.

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