Uighur women in China have reportedly had their long tunics cut short by the authorities, in what appears to be the latest attempt to suppress the minority’s Muslim identity.
A series of pictures, which could not be independently verified by The Telegraph, show women in China’s western Xinjiang province being accosted by scissor-wielding officials who cut off their dress-like garments, worn over trousers, at the waist.
The photos issued by Radio Free Asia, a US-government funded outlet, show women apparently being stopped in the street by officials in plain clothes. In one image it appears that female scooter rider has been pulled over to have her clothing adjusted.
Activists claim the policy is another move to “Sinicise” the 15-million strong minority, which Beijing has long been accused of repressing.
The bizarre move follows previous restrictions prohibiting “abnormal” beards, the wearing of veils in public places and the refusal to watch state television. Surveillance is pervasive, with residents being monitored by a multitude of facial recognition cameras and biometric data.
According to RFA, Uighurs have claimed that the tunics are worn for comfort and not religious reasons, although similar garments are worn sometimes in Muslim cultures as a sign of modesty.
Dilxat Raxit, spokesman for the World Uyghur Congress, a coalition of exiled Uighur groups, told The Telegraph that the act of slashing their clothes was an “insult” to local women and an intrusion on their personal lives.
The local authorities believed that the wearing of clothes to cover a women’s rear was “against modern civilization”, but actually their own practices were a form of “political discrimination,” he said, denouncing the situation as “ridiculous.”
Click Here: Fjallraven Kanken Art Spring Landscape Backpacks
The Chinese government strongly denies committing any abuses in Xinjiang and insists the legal, cultural and religious rights of Uighurs, a Turkic ethnic group, are fully protected. But it argues that strict policies introduced in recent years are an attempt to counter a rise in religious extremism.
At the extreme end of the scale, tens, possibly hundreds of thousands of Muslim Chinese citizens have been interned in mass re-education camps, the Associated Press reported in May, documenting the psychological pressure, beating, solitary confinement and food deprivation endured by inmates.
The reported abuses have not gone unnoticed abroad.
“The increasing repression and persecution of the Uighurs is profoundly concerning. The Chinese government is pursuing severe violations of freedom or religion or belief and other grave violations of human rights in Xinjiang,” said Benedict Rogers, East Asia team leader for Christian Solidarity Worldwide, a charity upholding religious freedoms.
“The international community should speak up before it is too late,” he said.