BEIJING – In a fresh crackdown on Chinese Muslims’ religious rights, a Muslim-majority county in western China has banned children from attending religious events over winter break.
The decision, announced by the education bureau in Gansu province–home to the Muslim Hui ethnic minority–came in the latest episode of authorities’ moves to control religious education in the province.
According to the notification, shared by Reuters, school students in Linxia county are prohibited from entering religious buildings over their break.
Students must also not read scriptures in classes or in religious buildings, the bureau said, adding that all students and teachers should heed the notice and work to strengthen political ideology and propaganda.
Xi Wuyi, a Marxist scholar at the state-backed Chinese Academy of Social Scientists and an outspoken critic of rising Islamic influence in China, shared the picture and welcomed the apparent move by the authorities.
With notice, the county was taking concrete action to keep religion and education separate and sticking strictly to education law, she said on the Weibo social media platform.
New regulations on religious affairs released in October last year, and due to take effect in February, aim to increase oversight of religious education, and provide for greater regulation of religious activities.
Last summer, a Sunday School ban was introduced in the southeastern city of Wenzhou, sometimes known as “China’s Jerusalem” due to its large Christian population, but Christian parents found ways to teach their children about their religion regardless.
Authorities in troubled parts of China, such as the far western region of Xinjiang–home to the Turkic-speaking Uighur Muslim minority–ban children from attending religious events.
The Chinese-speaking Hui, who are culturally more similar to the Han Chinese majority than to Uighurs, have also come under scrutiny from some intellectuals who fear creeping Islamic influence on society.