Issue 16: Regulations of De-extremification

World Uyghur Congress, 31 May 2018

On 1 April 2017, the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Regulations on De-extremification came into force, after being adopted on March 29th by regional authorities.  The measures built on other restrictive legilsation passed by the Chinese authorities, including the XUAR Religious Affairs Regulations in 2015 and the XUAR Implementing Measures of the Counter-Terrorism Law of the People’s Republic of China in 2016.

These measures imposed very strict restrictions on Uyghur religious beliefs and practices, by formally codifying many repressive actions that the Chinese government had imposed on the Uyghurs in the past. For instance, Article 9 of the Regulations prohibits the wearing of burqas or face covering and “spreading religious fanaticism through irregular beards or name selection”. Subsequent articles outline how the regulations should be implemented, included further checks, monitoring and deprivation of rights for Uyghurs.

While the regulations claim to be combating ‘extremism’ the language of the regulations themselves are so vague that virtually any expression of religious sentiment or of dissent can be labelled as ‘extremist’ activity. Rather than addressing the root causes of Uyghur frustration and respecting their basic rights, the regulations demonise the peaceful practice of Islam and formally codify repressive tactics in regional law.