Steven Jiang, CNN, January 14, 2015
Legislators in China’s far-western Xinjiang province have passed a law to prohibit residents from wearing burqas in public, state media reported, in a continued campaign against what authorities view as religious extremism.
The new ban in Urumqi was approved by local legislators last month, and given the greenlight by the regional legislature at the weekend.
A spate of recent violent incidents has rocked Xinjiang, a resource-rich region long inhabited by the Turkic-speaking, largely Muslim Uyghurs.
The arrival of waves of Han Chinese, the country’s predominant ethnic group, over the past decades has fueled ethnic tensions.
Chinese officials have blamed the recent attacks on Uyghur separatists–whom they also label “religious extremists”–seeking to establish an independent state.
Last August, another city in Xinjiang banned people wearing Islamic-style clothing and large beards from riding public buses during a provincial sporting event, according to state media.
Those restrictions came shortly after after authorities in Xinjiang banned students and civil servants from fasting during Ramadan, the Muslim holy month.
Amnesty International has said Uyghurs face widespread discrimination in employment, housing and educational opportunities, as well as curtailed religious freedom and political marginalization.