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China reining in Muslims? asks minority population to hand over religious items

Apprehensive of its minority population located in north-western region of Xinjiang, the Chinese authorities have now issued diktat for families to hand over religious items or face punishment. The religious items reportedly even includes Holy Quran. Officials in the region have told the families and mosques that Uyghur, Kazakh and Kyrgyz Muslims must give up all these items or face punishment.

“Officials at village, township and county level are confiscating all Qurans and the special mats used for namaaz[prayer],” a Kazakh source in Altay prefecture, near the border with Kazakhstan told Radio Free Asia. “Pretty much every household has a Quran, and prayer mats.”

While the process has started in Xinjiang now, it has been reported that Kashgar, Hotan, and other regions have been witnessing this since last week. The authorities have reportedly been sending out notices through social media platform WeChat. The notices also say that apart from the Quran and prayer mats, people must also hand in any religious reading matter as well as things that have the “Islamic moon and star symbol on it.”

Explaining the step, the Chinese officials have said that they were removing all the Qurans published in the last five years, as they featured extremist content. This is a part of China’s “Three Illegals and One Item” campaign, which bans numerous items owned by the Uyghurs.

While the ethnic group sees these items as religious, the authorities believe they are illegal. These include knives and flammable items remote-controlled toys, and objects with symbols related to Islam. The authorities, who believe that these items help promote terrorism, have also deemed religious activities and teaching as illegal.

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