China has banned Islamic baby names in the country’s largest Muslim province, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported.
As part of a crackdown on “extremism” that targets Muslims, Chinese authorities published a document entitled “Naming Rules for Ethnic Minorities” that prohibits names used by Muslims around the world including Hajj, Imam, Islam, Qura, Medina, etc.
The rule applies to the Muslim-majority province of Xinjiang, where the Communist Party has been imposing more and more restrictions on Muslims as part of what it claims is a battle against “extremism”.
According to a police official, any babies with “overly religious” names will be barred from the hukou household registration system which governs access to healthcare and education.
“You’re not allowed to give names with a strong religious flavour, such as Jihad or names like that,” he added.
“The most important thing here is the connotations of the name... [It mustn’t have] connotations of holy war or of separatism.”
A list of banned names was also detailed in Hotan prefecture in 2015 and has been introduced throughout Xinjiang, which is home to an estimated 10 million Muslims.
According to the Human Rights Watch, the latest “absurd” prohibition was part of a slew of new regulations “restricting religious freedom in the name of countering ‘extremism’”.
“These policies are blatant violations of domestic and international protections on the rights to freedom of belief and expression,” said Sophie Richardson, Human Rights Watch’s director for China.