Burqa a ‘garment of extremism, backwardness’: Chinese official

Burqa is a “garment of extremism” and “backwardness”, a top Chinese official has said while denouncing the veil worn by Muslim women as an outer cover misused by people to hide their identities.

“We Uyghur people don’t like to see women wear such kinds of clothes either, and by covering the eyes, the burqa represents some kind of backwardness,” Shewket Imin, a Muslim official of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Committee of the ruling Communist Party of China, was quoted as saying by state-run Global Times.

Shewket lamented the problems when people misuse burqas to hide their identities. He said some men wear burqas to abduct children.

Burqa is the “garment of extremism,” not ethnic minority costume nor a Muslim cloth, Shewket said after the release of a government “white paper” on Xinjiang yesterday, outlining the government policies in the Uyghur Muslim majority province which is restive over an increasing settlement of Hans from mainland China.

The document defended China’s crackdown on Islamic militants in Xinjiang, saying suppression of religious extremism is a “just move” to protect all people including Muslims.

Jihadi ideology is manipulating young people to become terrorists to kill innocent people, the document said.

Xinjiang, bordering Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and countries like Afghanistan, is experiencing a spate of violent attacks by al Qaeda-backed separatists, the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM).

China has deployed a large number of security personnel to curb the militancy, while Pakistan is carrying out a massive crackdown in its bordering tribal areas to destroy ETIM bases.

Defending the comments by Shewket, Xu Jianying, a research fellow from the Research Centre for Chinese Borderland History and Geography at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences said: “Wearing burqas is not required to fulfil religious freedom, nor a tradition for Uyghurs or Muslims.”

“Religious extremists have taken advantage of religious freedom to twist and politicise some religious doctrines,” Xu told the daily.

The fight against religious extremists and terrorists is global, which has safeguarded the interests of believers, Xu said.

Li Wei, a security expert at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said that 95 per cent of terrorist activities in Xinjiang have been aborted, a significant improvement in anti-terrorism efforts.

Li said civilians should not be fooled by propaganda from religious extremists.

There are 24,800 venues for religious activities in Xinjiang which include mosques, churches, Buddhist temples and Taoist temples with 29,300 clerical practitioners, the white paper has said.