China clamps restrictions on Uighurs with beards, burqas

Outside a mosque in China’s restive west, a government-appointed Muslim cleric was dodging a reporter’s question about why young men of the Uighur minority don’t have beards when one youth interrupted‘Why don’t you just tell them the truth?’ a boy said in the oasis city of Aksu.

 ‘It’s because the government doesn’t allow beards,’ the cleric said.The tense exchange provided a fleeting glimpse of both the extremes of China’s restrictions on minority Uighurs and the resentment that simmers beneath the surface in their homeland. Such a mood pervades Xinjiang’s south, a vast, mainly rural region that’s become a key battleground in the ruling Communist Party’s struggle to contain escalating ethnic violence that has killed at least a few hundred people over the past 18 months. The personal matter of facial hair has taken on heavy political overtones in the Uighur heartland.So proscribed are certain types of women’s headscarves, veils and ‘jilbabs,’ loose, full-length garments worn in public.


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