Muslims in Xinjiang, China, ordered to hand over all copies of The Qur’aan to authorities

This picture taken on June 30, 2014 shows Chinese Muslims reading the Koran at a mosque in Tancheng, in eastern China's Shandong province, at the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan. Across the Muslim world, the faithful fast from dawn to dusk, and abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and having sex during that time as they strive to be more pious and charitable. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTO

Cii Radio| Ayesha Ismail| 29 September 2017| 08 Muharram 1439

Muslims have reportedly been targeted by Chinese authorities who have ordered those in the northwestern region of Xinjiang to hand over “all Islam-related” materials including prayer mats and copies of the Koran.

Radio Free Asia reports that officials have been warning local neighbourhoods and mosques that ethnic minority Uyghur, Kazakh and Kyrgyz Muslims must hand in the items or face harsh punishment if they are found later. It was reportedly part of a region-wide campaign to ban “illegal” publicity materials, religious activities and teachings which contain ‘extremist content’ and could be used for terrorism purposes.

“Officials at village, township and county level are confiscating all Korans and the special mats used for namaaz [prayer],” a Kazakh source in Altay prefecture, near the border with Kazakhstan told RFA on Wednesday.

“Pretty much every household has a Koran, and prayer mats,” he said.

Earlier this year, Xinjiang authorities started confiscating all Korans published more than five years ago, as part of the campaign.

Dilxat Raxit, spokesman for the exile World Uyghur Congress group, said Muslims were instructed to hand over the Koran and related items in a broadcast by police over social media platform WeChat.

“The announcements say that people must hand in any prayer mats of their own accord to the authorities, as well as any religious reading matter, including anything with the Islamic moon and star symbol on it,” he told RFA.

“They are requiring people to hand in these items of their own accord.”

He said there were reports that Kashgar, Hotan and other regions had been given the same orders last week.

“We received a notification saying that every single ethnic Uyghur must hand in any Islam-related items from their own home, including Korans, prayers and anything else bearing the symbols of religion,” Mr Raxit said.

“They have to be handed in voluntarily. If they aren’t handed in, and they are found, then there will be harsh punishments.”

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