GANSU – A heavily-populated Muslim Chinese province has banned schools and colleges from any religious activities, after a video of a little girl reciting the Qur’an at a nursery school went viral, Press Trust of India reported.
The local government said it “strongly condemned the damaging act to the physical and mental health of the younger generation,” Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported on Friday, May 6.
The ban, imposed in northwestern China’s Gansu Province, came after a video titled “Cute girl reciting scriptures in Gansu” went viral.
In the video, the unidentified girl is seen wearing a Muslim head covering and sitting in a classroom with dozens of other students apparently all in Muslim attire.
Gansu is home to about 1.6 million Muslims, third highest population of Muslim in China’s provinces and regions, behind Xinjiang and Ningxia.
Imposing the ban, the Gansu education authority cited the country’s constitution and education laws, which state that “religious activities shall not get in the way of education.”
Apart from religious institutions with government approval, schools cannot conduct religious activities or preach religion, the statement said.
“(They) shall not force or induce pupils to convert to a certain religion or establish any religious organizations in schools,” the statement said.
Earlier in 2014, Xinjiang banned the practicing of religion in government buildings, as well as wearing clothes or logos associated with religious extremism.
Last May, Muslim shops and restaurants in a Chinese village in northwestern Xinjiang have been ordered to sell cigarettes and alcohol or face closure.
China has been imposing restrictions on Muslims, estimated by around 20 million, over the past years.
Authorities in restive Xinjiang outlawed Islamic veils from all public places at the start of 2015.
Similar crackdown was imposed in Kashgar a year earlier when authorities boasted that a number of “outlaws blinded by religious extremism” had been sentenced for wearing burqas, or full-face veil.
Since April 2014, authorities of Xinjiang started offering cash rewards to informants who report on their neighbors for wearing beards.
Earlier in December, China banned the wearing of Islamic veiled robes in public in Urumqi, the capital of the province of Xinjiang.