Rabat – Authorities in the northwestern Chinese region of Xinjiang have ordered its Muslim minority to turn over all copies of the Quran, prayer mats, and other religious items or face punishment, reported Radio Free Asia (RFA) on Wednesday.
Across the Xinjiang region, officials ordered neighborhoods and mosques that Muslims must hand in their religious objects or face “harsh punishment” if these items were to be foundlater.
“Officials at [the] village, township and county level are confiscating all Qurans and the special mats used for prayer,” a Kazakh Muslim told RFA.
The warning is being sent out to the region’s Muslims via WeChat, a popular social media platform. “We received a notification saying that every single ethnic Uyghur must hand in any Islam-related items from their own home, including Qurans, prayers and anything else bearing the symbols of religion,” Dilxat Raxit, of the exiled World Uyghur Congress, told RFA.
Raxit continued to say that the announcement ordered that Muslims turns in any religious material, including anything with the Islamic moon and star symbol on it.
Xinjiang authorities began confiscating all Qurans published more than five years ago due to “extremist content,” according to RFA.
The Quran is part of the “Three Illegals and One Item” campaign in Xinjiang, which “bans illegal” publicity materials, religious activities, and religious teaching, as well as items deemed by authorities to be tools of terrorism. In addition to the Quran, items under the ban include knives, flammable objects, remote-controlled toys, and objects sporting symbols related to Islam.
The Buddhist-majority country is known for its history of discrimination against its Uyghur, Kazakh, and Kyrgyz ethnic Muslim minorities.