Beijing: Chinese authorities have imposed a ban on “abnormal” facial hair and veils in public places in the country's predominantly Muslim Xinjiang province, according to media reports.
Authorities say that it is an effort “to curb extremism and radicalization in the volatile area bordering Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Afghanistan.”
China claims the initiative was prompted in part by the deaths of hundreds of people over the past years in Xinjiang where government security forces regularly clashed with militants and faced unrest among the Muslim Uyghur people.
However, critics say the armed clashes and attacks were a response to the crackdown on the Muslim population carried out by Beijing. Chinese authorities reject accusations of oppression, emphasizing that Uyghur people and their rights are under protection.
The new rules are to be enforced from Saturday, local authorities said on their website, the new rules would deem using religious instead of legal procedures to marry or divorce to be illegal; not allowing children to receive the national curriculum in favor to homeschooling would also be deemed illegal.
Certain baby names have also fallen from grace, with authorities banning the “naming of children to exaggerate religious fervor”.
It will also be an offense to “refuse or reject” watching state television or radio, although it is not clear how authorities are planning to enforce this regulation.