[JURIST] Authorities in Urumqi, capital of the far-west Chinese province of Xinjiang, issued a new law Wednesday banning the wearing of burqas in public. Xinjiang, home [CNN report] to China’s minority ethnically Turkic Muslim Uighurs, has been the site of significant ethnic unrest including recent attacks by Uighur separatists labeled “religious extremists” by Chinese officials. This burqa ban is the most recent ordinance enacted by Chinese authorities effectively targeting the Uighur population; earlier this year provincial authorities of Xinjiang banned students and civil servants from fasting during Ramadan. On Monday police in Xinjiang shot dead [BBC news] six people allegedly attempting to set off explosive devices in the city of Shule.
The influx of Han Chinese, China’s largest ethnic group, to resource-rich Xinjiang province has led to increased ethnic tension and unrest in the region. The People’s Court of Kashgar in the region of Xinjiang sentenced [JURIST report] 22 people to prison terms for illegal religious activities and other crimes. In May Chinese officials held a public rally and sentenced 55 individuals [JURIST report] for crimes such as separatism, participation in terrorist groups and violent terrorism. Also in May a “terror group” was arrested [BBC report] in Xinjiang with more than one ton of material for explosive devices. The same month 31 people were killed, and more than 90 injured, when two cars drove through a busy street market in Xinjiang, setting off explosives [Guardian report]. In April both a bombing and a knife attack [CNN report] occurred in the South Railway Station of Urumqi.