Chinese government in the northwestern Muslim-majority region of Xinjiang has banned parents from giving their children dozens of Islamic names, as part of an ongoing crackdown on alleged ‘extremism’ in the area.
According to Radio Free Asia, the official list of banned names had previously been circulated in Hotan, south Xinjiang, in 2015, but it seems to be rolled out in the entire region now.
Published by the ruling Chinese Communist Party as ‘Naming Rules For Ethnic Minorities’, the document’s rules now appear to be enforced throughout the region, which is home to the biggest Muslim population in China.
The RFA reported that Islam, Quran, Mecca, Jihad, Imam, Saddam, Hajj, and Medina are among dozens of baby names banned under ruling Chinese Communist Party’s “Naming Rules For Ethnic Minorities.
Scroll down for the list
An employee who answered the phone at a police station in the regional capital Urumqi confirmed that “overly religious” names are banned, and that any babies registered with such names would be barred from the “hukou” household registration system that gives access to health care and education, the report said.
Following is the list of some banned names, according to RFA, that was unveiled in 2015.
The banned male names are:
Other names that are banned
The banned female names are
The name ban was reportedly first introduced in 2015 in the city of Hotan but it has now been implemented province-wide amid Beijing’s fear simmering resentment in the region and the threat posed by Islamic extremism engenders increased sectarian violence.
Hundreds of people have been killed in Xinjian in the past few years mostly due to clashes between Uighurs and Han Chinese.
In 2014, as many as 29 people were killed in a mass-stabbing attack in Kunming which authorities said at the time they had evidence linking the perpetrators to Xinjian.
And in February, another knife attack in Pishan County killed five before the assailants were themselves killed.
The Chinese government largely blames the unrest on what it calls Islamist militants and the Communist Party’s strict adherence to atheism and its intolerance toward religious expression have exacerbated tensions.
In late March Chinese authorities banned Muslim men from having “abnormal” facial hair, wearing robes which cover the whole body and women from wearing bukas.
Earlier this month a local Chinese official in Hotan was demoted for refusing to smoke in front of Muslim elders — in what was considered a sign he wasn’t committed to the fight against religious extremism.
In a statement released this week, Human Rights Watch critiqued China’s approach as farcical and described the name rule another example of “blatant violations of domestic and international protections on the rights to freedom of belief and expression.”
Sophie Richardson, Human Rights Watch’s China director, said Beijing’s policies run the risk of exaggerating religious sentiment in the region and worsen the region’s unrest.
“Violent incidents and ethnic tensions in Xinjiang have been on the rise in recent years, but the government’s farcically repressive policies and punishments are hardly solutions”, Richardson said. “Instead, they are only going to deepen resentment among Uyghurs. If the government is serious about bringing stability and harmony to the region as it claims, it should roll back – not double down on – repressive policies.”