SHAFAQNA – Authorities in China’s Xinjiang region have banned China’s Muslims from using their language in schools.
Last month, the Hotan government in north western China prohibited the use of the Uighur language from being used in schools including pre-school.
The new move comes after strict restrictions on Muslims in the region including a ban on fasting during Ramadan.
It said that the use of the Uyghur language was banned from pre-school, all the way to secondary school.
The notice claimed that the move aimed to ‘fully popularise the national common language’. Signs around the schools also have to be in Mandarin.
The move will come into effect in September, in time for the new school semester.
A Uyghur official told Radio Free Asia that ‘even the Uyghur textbooks will be replaced with Chinese textbooks from inland China.’
The news was confirmed by the World Uyghur Congress who say that the ban is currently in place in one prefecture of Xinjiang province. However it’s not unlikely that the ban could spread province wide in the future.
William Nee, researcher at Amnesty International told MailOnline: ‘The Communist Party has been pushing “bilingual education” over the past few years, but in reality, it seems as that the real goal is to encourage Mandarin while hollowing out the role of the Uighur language, and in the long run, presumably weaken Uighur identity as a potential unifying, political force.
‘However, many Uighurs are extremely concerned that their language and culture is being systematically suppressed, so this type of heavy-handed policy has the potential to backfire.’
Many Muslims in the country say they feel victimised by the government who have tightened control on the region.
For some time, the Chinese government has been cracking down on Muslim activity in the region of Xinjiang under the guise of ‘tackling extremism and terrorist behaviour’.
In November 2016, China ordered that residents of Xinjiang return their passports to their local police station for it to be kept there. Those wishing to use their passports have to apply to the local police station for the return of their documents.
While earlier this year, fasting during Ramadan was banned and restaurants were forced to stay open.