By Lobsang Tenchoe
DHARAMSALA, April 26: China has banned Uighurs from giving Muslim names to their children which China sees as overly religious or splittist.
In a bid to further suppress and tighten their grip on Uighurs, Beijing has an extreme notification that forbids Uighur parents from choosing names like Muhammad, Arafat and Jihad to their newborns.
Titled ‘List of Banned Ethnic Minority Names,’ the notification boasts a lengthy list of more than two dozen names, nytimes.com reported.
Chinese officials introduced the ban this month and called it an effort to “curb religious fervor” in what they call the western region of Xinjiang, which is inhibited by over 10 million Uighurs, the report added.
Security officials in Urumqi and other cities in Xinjiang confirmed the ban and added parents who fail to adhere risks being denied ‘hukuo,’ an identification document required to gain access to education, employment and other social benefits, the reported further added.
International rights group have condemned China for the restriction and said it shows the extreme lengths to which China would go to limit civil liberties of Uighurs in the name of fighting terrorism.
Choosing baby names should be a “joyful, private discussion. This is the latest absurd restriction that the Chinese government has imposed on people in Xinjiang” Sophie Richardson, the China director of Human Rights Watch was quoted as saying in the report.
Taking a cue from their repressive policy that suppressed Tibetan culture, lately China has gravely regulated the cultural expression of the Uighurs which includes strict rules on dress, religious observance and travel.
The restriction imposed a month ahead of Ramadan was dubbed a hostile and discriminatory policy aimed directly at their culture by the Uighurs.
Last year, the Chinese Government forbid Uyghur Muslims from fasting during Ramadan, Islam’s holy month of fasting, introspection and prayer.