DUBAI: The Chinese government has launched a crackdown on Muslims in the Xinjiang territory in northwestern China – ordering copies of the Qur’an and prayer mats be handed over, or face harsh punishment, Radio Free Asia has reported.
Dilxat Raxit, a spokesman for the human rights group, the World Uyghur Congress said people in several regions had been notified that all Uyghur people must hand over all religious items related to Islam – including copies of the Qur’an and prayer mats.
The information was also broadcast across social media network WeChat, instructing people to hand the items in to government authorities.
The government has targeted Qur’ans in the region for the last five years because it is claimed the holy book contains “extremist content.”
The clampdown is part of the “Three Illegals and One Item” campaign targeting what the Chinese government considers “illegal” religious items owned by mostly Muslim Uyghurs.
The Uyghur Human Rights Project Director Omer Kanat said: “The new religious regulations demonstrate how Xi Jinping’s administration is founded on division. In Xi’s China loyalty is demanded and not earned. Ethnic minorities, dissidents and people of faith present a challenge to Beijing’s vision of unquestioned allegiance to the state. If these groups do not fall into line, their vilification creates a convenient scapegoat for a morally compromised government.”
Muslims are being told to hand over the religious items “voluntarily” to authorities, if any are found in searches then offenders will face harsh punishments.