torsdag 25. april 2024

A New Round of Restrictions Further Constrains Religious Practice in Xinjiang

Authorities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region rang in 2024 by announcing an update to the region’s strictures on religious practice. Changes include new rules to ensure that sites of religious worship, like mosques, look adequately “Chinese,” and to mandate the cultivation of “patriotic” religious leaders.

Officials have long levied restrictions on religious belief and practice in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), but the new provisions still represent a significant change. The XUAR enacted the first iteration of the Xinjiang Regulations on Religious Affairs in 1994 and amended it in 2015. Beijing has also been pushing for the “Sinicization” of Muslim religious buildings for the last several years. Therefore, the newest amendments to the religious regulations, which came into effect on February 1, 2024, do not represent a wholesale change in the government’s approach to the region, but rather the further codification of constraints on religious practice and the assurance of even harsher punishments for those who violate them. Despite enshrining religious freedom in its constitution and official pronouncements, China has seen a continued decline in the space available for religious practice.