World Bulletin/News Desk
The capital of China's far western Xinjiang (East Turkestan) has banned the wearing of Islamic veils in public, the regional government said on Thursday, in a move experts worry could spark more unrest in the troubled region.
The restriction comes as China is stepping up curbs on religious clothing and education for Muslim Uighurs in the region.
Many Xinjiang experts say the outlawing of veils and the heavy-handed enforcement of the rules would further stigmatise the region's Uighurs.
The veil ban was "considered and approved" by the Urumqi parliament's Standing Committee on Wednesday, the official news website of the Xinjiang government said.
It is scheduled to come into force after review by the Xinjiang parliament's Standing Committee before it is formally announced, the website Tianshan.net, reported.
Xinjiang, home to the Uighur people who speak a Turkic language, has been beset for years by violence because of repressive policies.
James Leibold, an expert on China's ethnic policy from Melbourne's La Trobe University, said the ban on the veils would make them "more popular as a symbol of resistance and assertion of ethno-national identity".
"The Party has drawn a one-to-one link between these styles of head, face and body covering and religious extremist thought and violence," said Leibold, who is researching anti-veiling practices in Xinjiang.
"It's a very crude and counterproductive way of trying to deal with the problem of terrorism."
Exiles and many rights groups say the real cause of the unrest is China's heavy-handed policies, including curbs on Islam and the culture and language of the Uighurs.
Last month, Xinjiang said it has banned the practice of religion in government buildings and people will be prohibited from wearing or forcing others to wear clothes or logos associated with religion.
In August, Karamay, a northwestern city in Xinjiang, banned people with head scarves, veils and long beards from boarding buses.
As India's leader meets with top Jammu and Kashmir official, masses keep their eye on independence
ISIL-linked rebels killed in Central Mindanao clashes between Friday and Monday, military says
Prime Minister Narendra Modi slams the attack by suspected Maoist rebels in Chhattisgarh state
Seoul to counter close-range attack by N. Korea with new radar as tensions rise again on eve of key Pyongyang anniversary
Complaint filed in connection with killings of 1,400 people by death squad when he was mayor of Davao
With the threat of the measure looming, major manufacturers at the annual auto show in Shanghai are announcing big plans to boost their electric vehicle (EV) offerings in China.
Most North Korean refugees begin their escape by crossing into China and then try to make it to third countries -- often in Southeast Asia -- where they seek asylum in the South.
Twelve army officers, including two generals, have been sacked for negligence over a Taliban attack.
HRW has said that China should immediately disclose the whereabouts of eight North Korean refugees currently detained in China
"China is firmly supporting the denuclearisation of the area in the name of stability and peace", Wang Yi told reporters in Athens after meeting Greek counterpart Nikos Kotzias.
South Korean media reports arrest of Korean-American ex-professor in Pyongyang -- the third such arrest of US citizen
The strike group is in the region as tensions spike over North Korea's rogue arms programme and concerns that Pyongyang is planning a sixth nuclear test as it pursues its goal of a weapon capable of reaching the US mainland.
Massive poll turnout reflects confidence of Turks in Erdogan’s leadership, Hasina says in letter to Turkish president
Baluchistan is the largest of Pakistan's four provinces, but its roughly seven million inhabitants have long complained they do not receive a fair share of its gas and mineral wealth.
Turkey will continue to remain in solidarity with Afghanistan in its fight against terrorism: Turkish Foreign Ministry
'They wanted to kill us and throw our bodies into the river,' according to survivor