Students attend class at an Arabic language school for females in Yinchuan, northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. File picture: Reuters
Students attend class at an Arabic language school for females in Yinchuan, northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. File picture: Reuters

Chinese county bans Muslim children from attending religious events

By Christian Shepherd Time of article published Jan 17, 2018

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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

education.

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

document's authenticity.

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

regardless.

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

restrictions.

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. 

Reuters

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