(TibetanReview.net, Apr27, 2017) – The Chinese rulers of East Turkestan – which China calls Xinjiang – have issued a list of dozens of names which it has banned the region’s Islamic people from giving their children. Reports said the ban on parents from giving their children ‘extreme’ Islamic names was part of an ongoing crackdown on alleged ‘extremism’ in the area.
Published as ‘Naming Rules for Ethnic Minorities’, the list was initially circulated in Hotan, south Xinjiang, as early as 2015, but was now being apparently enforced throughout the region, reported Radio Free Asia (RFA, Washington) Apr 20.
The reports said names with overly religious connotations – such as Jihad, Quran, Imam, Mecca, Medina, Saddam and Hajj – are banned for supposedly ‘exaggerating religious fervour’, despite being popular choices for Muslim parents all over the world.
Babies registered under the banned names will be barred from the hukou household registration system and thereby denied access to public healthcare and education.
Asked if Yultuzay, a reference to the star and moon symbol of the Islamic faith, was acceptable, RFA quoted an unnamed employee who answered the phone at a police station in the regional capital Urumqi as saying: “Actually the star and moon are a pagan symbol.”
He has said the most important thing was the connotations of the name, “[it mustn’t have] connotations of holy war or of splittism [Xinjiang independence].”
And so, names of Islamic scholars were not permissible, for according to the employee, “it’s the sort of thing that [could be regarded as] promoting terror and evil cults.”
Because of China’s decades-old policy of transferring Chinese colonizers, the region’s ethnic Muslim population, known as the Uigyurs, now constitute only around half of its 20 million inhabitants.
The region, which has been under Chinese occupation since 1949, has seen a number of violent incidents in the past. While China invariable describes them as terrorist incidents, others see them as reaction to China’s brutal suppression of Uighur culture and national identity.