BEIJING (Reuters) – The capital of China’s far western Xinjiang has banned the wearing of Islamic veils in public, the regional government said on Thursday, in a move experts worry could spark more unrest in the troubled region.
The restriction comes as China is stepping up curbs on religious clothing amid increasing nervousness about extremism. Beijing blames separatists for several deadly bomb and knife attacks that have killed hundreds of people over the past two years or so.
Many Xinjiang experts say the outlawing of veils and the heavy-handed enforcement of the rules would further stigmatise the region’s minority Uighurs.
Uighurs have traditionally followed a moderate form of Islam, but many have begun adopting practices more commonly seen in Saudi Arabia or Pakistan, such as full-face veils for women, as China has intensified a security crackdown in recent years.
The veil ban was “considered and approved” by the Urumqi parliament’s Standing Committee on Wednesday, the official news website of the Xinjiang government said.