Chinese officials in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region have ordered Muslim families living there to turn in all religious items, Radio Free Asia reported this week. This includes prayer mats and copies of the Quran, the Muslim holy book.
An ethnic Kazakh living in Xinjiang’s Altay area told RFA that officials have been confiscating the religious items. “Pretty much every household has a Quran, and prayer mats,” said the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Dilxat Raxit, spokesperson for the World Uyghur Congress group, said similar reports have come from Kashgar, Hotan and other areas.
He said, “We received a notification saying that every single ethnic Uyghur must hand in any Islam-related items from their own home.”
Raxit said police are making the announcements on the social media service WeChat. And people must hand over these items voluntarily or they will face punishment.
Raxit said, "The announcements say that people must hand in any prayer mats of their own accord to the authorities, as well as any religious reading matter, including anything with the Islamic moon and star symbol on it."
Earlier this year, Xinjiang officials began confiscating all Qurans published more than five years ago because of what they described as “extremist content.”
The Qurans were taken as part of a Xinjiang-wide campaign that bans “illegal” publicity materials, religious activities and religious teachings that officials consider to be tools of terrorism.
RFA and VOA are both part of the U.S. government-supported Broadcasting Board of Governors.
Radio Free Asia reported and wrote this story. It was adapted for VOA Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.
Words in This Story
mat - n. a small piece of material used to cover the floor or ground
confiscate - v. to take (something) away from someone especially as punishment or to enforce the law or rules
on their own accord - phrase. done because you want to, not because someone has asked you or forced you to do it
anonymity - n. the quality or state of being unknown to most people