Xinjiang [China], April 25 : China has banned dozens of Islamic baby names in the country's largest Muslim-majority Xinjiang province as a part of its crackdown on alleged religious "extremism", Radio Free Asia (RFA) has reported.
The RFA, citing a Chinese Communist Party's document titled 'Naming Rules for Ethnic Minorities, said that Islam, Quran, Mecca, Jihad, Imam, Saddam, Hajj, and Medina are among dozens of baby names that have been banned in the province.
A police official was quoted, as saying that a baby registered with such names would be barred from the "hukou" household registration system that gives access to healthcare and education.
"You're not allowed to give names with a strong religious flavor, such as Jihad or names like that. The most important thing here is the connotations of the name ... it mustn't have connotations of holy war or of splittism Xinjiang independence," the official added. A spokesman for the exiled World Uyghur Congress group, Dilxat Raxit, said Beijing continues to suppress traditional Uyghur culture by controlling the naming of Uyghur children.
The Human Rights Watch described the move as the latest in a slew of new regulations restricting religious freedom in the name of countering "religious extremism." On April 1, Xinjiang authorities imposed new rules prohibiting the wearing of "abnormal" beards or veils in public places, and imposing punishments for refusing to watch state TV or radio programs.
"These policies are blatant violations of domestic and international protections on the rights to freedom of belief and expression," Chinese director of Human Rights Watch (HRW), Sophie Richardson said in a statement.
"Violent incidents and ethnic tensions in Xinjiang have been on the rise in recent years, but the government's farcically repressive policies and punishments are hardly solutions.
Instead, they are only going to deepen resentment among Uyghurs. If the government is serious about bringing stability and harmony to the region as it claims, it should roll back - not double down on - repressive policies," she added.