Uighur Muslims attend Friday prayers inside the Yanhan Mosque in Urumqi, the capital of northwest China's Xinjiang province in this file photo. Authorities are confiscating Qurans printed before 2012, saying the contain 'extremist content.' (Photo by Frederic J. Brown/AFP)
Authorities in northwestern China's Xinjiang region are confiscating all Qurans published more than five years ago due to "extremist content," according to local officials,. The move is part of an ongoing campaign against "illegal" religious items owned by mostly Muslim ethnic Uyghur residents.
Village chiefs from Barin township, in Kashgar (in Chinese, Kashi) prefecture's Peyziwat (Jiashi) county, recently told Radio Free Asia's Uyghur Service that hundreds of the Islamic holy books printed before 2012 had been seized since authorities issued an order recalling them on Jan. 15.
The Qurans were appropriated as part of the "Three Illegals and One Item" campaign underway in Xinjiang that bans "illegal" publicity materials, religious activities, and religious teaching, as well as items deemed by authorities to be tools of terrorism, they said.
Emet Imin, the party secretary of Barin's No. 1 village, told RFA that authorities had confiscated 500 books in the recent campaign sweep of households beginning in January "They can keep Qurans that were published after August 2012, according to an order from the top, but they are not allowed to keep any other versions," Imin said.
Imin said that according to the order he received from his superiors, there were "problems" in the earlier version of the Quran related to "some signs of extremism."
"Therefore, we issued a notice on Jan. 15 urging residents to hand over older Qurans and warning them they would bear the consequences if banned versions were found in their homes," he said.
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