China Cracks Down On Many Aspects Of Islam


CHINA. Beijing. Muslims worshiping at Niu Jie Mosque during Eid al Fitr, the festival marking the end of Ramadan. 2005

The Chinese government is attempting to limit prayer time and areas of worship for practicing Muslims in the northwestern part of the nation, which some see as an effort to control the growth of Islam. China officially outlaws most religious practices within its borders. Posted signs outside some mosques reportedly direct Muslims not to go longer than one half-hour in prayer and also not to pray outside of them, as well.

Khotan residents are also prohibited from worshipping at moques outside of their town, reportedly angering some citizens. People who are upset with the rules do not express their concerns, however, for fear of retribution from the government. China's rules on Islam stretch from public into other facets of life, as well, as only official versions of the Qur'an are acceptable to use and Imams are forbidden from teaching from the book in private.

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Also, in the southern regions of China live the troublesome Uighurs, a people whom old Russian travellers called Sart (a name which they used for sedentary, Turkish-speaking Muslims in general), while Western travellers called them Turki, in recognition of their language. The Chinese used to call them Ch'an-t'ou ('Turbaned Heads') but this term has been dropped, being considered derogatory, and the Chinese, using their own pronunciation, now called them Weiwuerh. As a matter of fact there was for centuries no 'national' name for them; people identified themselves with the oasis they came from, like Kashgar or Turfan.

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