Chinese county bans Muslim children from attending religious events
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Beijing - A mostly Muslim county in
western China has banned children from attending religious
events over a winter break, an education bureau said in a notice
posted online, as authorities step up control of religious
School students in Linxia county in Gansu province, home to
many members of the Muslim Hui ethnic minority, are prohibited
from entering religious buildings over their break, a district
education bureau said, according to the notification.
Students must also not read scriptures in classes or in
religious buildings, the bureau said, adding that all students
and teachers should heed the notice and work to strengthen
political ideology and propaganda.
Reuters was unable to independently verify the authenticity
of the notice.
A man who answered the telephone at the Linxia education
bureau hung up when Reuters asked about the notice. A woman at
the district education bureau declined to comment on the
Xi Wuyi, a Marxist scholar at the state-backed Chinese
Academy of Social Scientists and an outspoken critic of rising
Islamic influence in China, shared the picture and welcomed the
apparent move by the authorities.
With the notice, the county was taking concrete action to
keep religion and education separate and sticking strictly to
education law, she said on the Weibo social media platform.
New regulations on religious affairs released in October
last year, and due to take effect in February, aim to increase
oversight of religious education, and provide for greater
regulation of religious activities.
Last summer, a Sunday School ban was introduced in the
southeastern city of Wenzhou, sometimes known as "China's
Jerusalem" due to its large Christian population, but Christian
parents found ways to teach their children about their religion
Chinese law officially grants religious freedom for all but
regulations on education and protection of minors also say
religion cannot be used to hinder state education or to "coerce"
children to believe.
Authorities in troubled parts of China, such as the far
western region of Xinjiang, home to the Turkic-speaking Uighur
Muslim minority, ban children from attending religious events.
But religious communities elsewhere rarely face blanket
Fear of Muslims influence has grown in China in recent
years, sparked in part by violence in Xinjiang.
The Chinese-speaking Hui, who are culturally more similar to
the Han Chinese majority than to Uighurs, have also come under
scrutiny from some intellectuals who fear creeping Islamic
influence on society.