Chinese university bans hijab for Muslims
A university in central China has sparked controversy after issuing a rare order banning female students from wearing headscarves on campus.
Shaanxi Normal University in Xian, a city with a large Islamic population, reportedly told nine female Muslims to remove their veils in April and then issued a notice banning Islamic headscarves earlier this month.
In a report for the English language Chinese based site Global Times, another male student also was accused of “illegal preaching” after he was caught reading the Qur’an in a cafeteria at the same university last month.
“We accept their customs. But our bottom line is that we do not allow students to engage in religious activities,” Li Chenzi, a university official, wrote on the Chinese question-and-answer website Zhihu.com yesterday after debate over the ban went viral.
Although Li denied the students were ordered to remove their veils, one of them today anonymously refuted the university’s claims in an interview with the state-run Global Times.
“The headscarf ban has spread to all Muslim students of various ethnic groups, including the Uyghur, Kazak and Hui people, as the authorities claimed that the ban was released by the Ministry of Education,” the student said.
Although there is no overt ban on religious clothing, since Xi Jinping has become President Chinese universities have exerted stricter controls on ideology.
Xian has traditionally seen few restrictions on its multi-ethnic population which includes at least 50,000 minority Hui Muslims, many of whom live in the narrow streets around the city’s Great Mosque, the oldest in China.
Some areas of Xinjiang began enforcing bans on veils last year, including Turpan where authorities drafted legislation closely modeled on Islamic head-dress prohibitions enacted in France and Belgium.