In the latest attempt to tackle ‘religious extremism’ in China, Muslim children in the Linxia county in Gansu province will not be permitted to enter religious buildings or read sacred texts over their winter break.
Education authorities apparently issued the notice to clamp down on religious influence in education.
China’s Communist Party officially asserts itself as an atheistic state that grants religious freedom to all. The use of coercion to promote religious belief is prohibited and religion is not allowed to interfere with state education, reported The South China Morning Post.
The Christian community was impacted by this last year, as a Sunday School ban in southeast city Wenzhou was implemented, according to Outlook.
New regulations on religious affairs released in October, and due to take effect next month, aim to increase oversight of religious education and provide for greater regulation of religious activities.
These attitudes towards religion in education are part of a wider strategy to combat the supposed growing Islamic influence in China feared by academics.
Education authorities have banned Muslim students in Linxia county in Gansu province #China from entering religious buildings & reading religious scriptures.
Fear of Muslims’ influence has grown in China in recent years, sparked in part by violence in #Xinjiang. pic.twitter.com/fvYTk8K62B
— timesofpakistan (@timesofpak123) January 18, 2018
Last year, authorities in the Xinjiang province banned certain names with Islamic connotations. They also prohibitted “abnormal” beards, the wearing of veils in public places and the refusal to watch state television.
The authorities justified these actions due to hundreds of people having died due to unrest supposedly caused by Islamist militants and separatists. Rights groups, however, said the violence is more a reaction to repressive Chinese policies, reported Asian Correspondent.
Increasing outward expressions of Islamic faith are viewed by the State as direct opposition to their values, the news portal explained.
Although most of China does not enforce blanket bans on the Muslim community, there is increasing fear of Islamic influence from academics and stricter regulations being implemented by authorities.
Xi Wuyi, a Marxist scholar at the state-backed Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and an outspoken critic of rising Islamic influence in China, supported the apparent stance of the education authorities in Linxia.
She said that the notice showed the county was taking action to keep religion and education separate, and sticking strictly to education law on the Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, according to SCMP.
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