China Just Banned Newborn Muslim Names for More Than 10 Million Chinese Muslims

Many parents worry about choosing the right name for their new born. If picking a name is a difficult decision for ordinary people, it is a lot harder for Chinese Muslims because choosing the wrong name means depriving their children of education and government assistance.

This is the new reality that the minority Chinese Muslims in the province of Xinjiang will face after the authorities imposed a new list of birth names, according to the Guardian newspaper.

The decision comes amid a campaign of religious repression by China against the Muslim province of China, which includes more than 10 million Muslims, CNN reported.

The list included names such as "Islam, Koran, Saddam, Mecca" and any other names with references to the symbol of the moon and star, all of which are now banned in the province mentioned by the Communist Party officials there, and any child with one of these will be deprived of civil registration, which is a very important document because it grants its holder access to social services, health care and education.

The full list has not yet been published, and the criteria are still not clear in the distinction of religious names. Human rights groups were quick to denounce the ban on names.Sophie Richardson, director of Human Rights Watch in China, said "This is only the latest in a series of new laws restricting religious freedom in the name of fighting" religious extremism. "These policies are flagrant violations of the rights of freedom "If the government is serious about restoring stability and harmony to the region as it claims, then it must retreat from repressive policies, not multiply it."

A new sweeping anti-extremism legislation, including banning long beards and headscarves in public places, was imposed by the government last month and came into force on April 1, 2017. This follows a series of steps to increase surveillance in the region, including waiver of passports and mandatory GPS tracking devices in cars, CNN reported.

Several repressive campaigns have been launched in Xinjiang, the western province of China, home to the Muslim Uyghur minority. Uyghur and human rights groups complain of tight restrictions on religion and freedom of expression.

Source: The Guardian, CNN.