Chinese authorities have banned women in Urumqi, the capital city of Xinjiang—an autonomous western region where Muslims account for almost half of the population—from wearing burqas in public, according to a brief article on a government-run website, Tianshan News. Local legislators for Urumqi proposed the ban in December, and now the regional legislature has approved it.
It’s not clear when the ban will go into effect. State media said only that it will be implemented after being modified to meet comments proposed in a meeting over the weekend.
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What is clear, though, is that moves like these are likely to further alienate an already disenchanted minority group—the Uighurs, who feel their culture and economy is being overrun by Han Chinese. Ever since a group of Uighur Muslims went on a killing spree in a train station in Kunming last March, Chinese officials have ratcheted up restrictions on a group they see as potential extremists. Xinjiang officials later banned students and civil servants from fasting for Ramadan, and authorities in the Xinjiang city of Karamy barred anyone wearing burqas, niqabs, hijabs or simply “large beards” from taking public buses.