Due to fear of extremism in the northwestern Muslim-majority region of Xinjiang, the Chinese government has listed dozens of ‘extreme’ Islamic names banned in the Xinjiang province.
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The list titled ‘Naming Rules For Ethnic Minorities’ on the government document which was signed by the ruling Chinese Communist Party and disseminated by Uighur groups included 23 names related to historic religious, political figures and places that are deemed to be ‘overly religious’
The list includes ‘Imam,’ ‘Hajj,’ ‘Turknaz,’ ‘Mujahid,’ ‘Muhammad, ‘Azhar’ and ‘Wahhab,’ while ‘Saddam,’ ‘Arafat,’ ‘Medina’ and ‘Cairo are also on the list.
According to the government ruling, if a parent chooses to name his/her child one of the barred names, the child will be denied government benefits in the country.
Confirming the ban, a government official told RFA.
‘You’re not allowed to give names with a strong religious flavor, such as Jihad or names like that. The most important thing here is the connotations of the name. It mustn’t have connotations of holy war or of splittism Xinjiang independence.’ He said
However, the World Uyghur Congress, an advocacy group from the ethnic minority operating outside of China, has condemned the new policy.
‘In setting limits on the naming of Uyghurs, the Chinese government is, in fact, engaging in political persecution under another guise,’
Dilxat Raxit, a spokesman for the group, told RFA.
“’They are afraid that people with such names will become alienated from Chinese policies in the region.’