Urumqi, the capital of China’s restive Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous region, passed a rule Thursday banning the use of full-face veils in public areas. The move is seen as an effort to curb violent attacks in the region, which Beijing has attributed to Islamist extremism, according to The Associated Press (AP).
The rule has been passed by the Standing Committee of the Urumqi region, but it would need to be approved by the Xinjiang Uighur region’s congress as well to be made into law, ECNS, a local news network, reported.
Although the report did not clarify what would be counted as a full-face veil, critics fear that the strict measures could hurt religious sentiment in the region, which is home to the Uighur Muslim minority, AP reported. The Chinese government blames religious extremism for violence in the region while the local minority community accuses Beijing of religious persecution.
Earlier in December, the administration heading the northern Xinjiang city of Karamay, established a rule stating that young women with burkas or hijabs would not be allowed to travel on public buses, AP reported.
The Xinjiang region has witnessed several attacks that have claimed many lives over the past 20 months. In November, an attack on a street in Sache County in northwest Xinjiang killed at least 15 people and injured about 14. In September, at least 50 people, including 10 rioters were killed in a series of explosions in the region.