China’s government has announced that parents in the Muslim majority Xinjiang region will be reported to the police if they try to “lure” their children into religious activities.
The new order, which will go into effect on Nov. 1, stipulates that parents or guardians cannot “organize, lure or force minors into attending religious activities.” In fact, the authorities cannot even “tolerate” children attending “underground scripture studies.”
The rule added that “any group or person has the right to stop these kinds of behaviors and report them to the public security authorities.”
In addition, parents cannot promote religious beliefs in children or force them to dress in specific clothes or symbols. It also forbids any form of religious practice in schools.
If parents are unable to guide their kids from “harmful” ways or if they are unable to study at their existing schools, they can request their children be sent to special schools for “rectification.”
China previously banned men from sporting beards and women from donning veils.
Although China’s constitution officially grants people the right to exercise their religion, the Communist Party strictly monitors religious activities, including faith-based education. It also discourages children under the age of 18 from receiving religious upbringing.
The Muslims of Xinjiang, Uighurs, begrudge the restrictions on their religion and culture and claim they have been overlooked in favor of Han Chinese coming into the region, when it comes to economic opportunities.
The Chinese government denies all such allegations, claiming they provide full legal, religious and cultural rights of minorities — despite evidence to the contrary.
The government has arrested Uighurs who championed for the rights of their people, most notable of whom is Ilham Tohti, an economics professor and activist whose assets were seized and who was jailed for life in 2014 over “separatism-related” charges.
Last week, Tohti was awarded the Martin Ennals Award For Human Rights Defenders, raising the ire of Beijing, which said he was a criminal who admired terrorism.