Muslim ethnic Uyghur children play in a run-down neighborhood in Urumqi, capital of China's Xinjiang region. Chinese authorities are extending an ‘extreme’ Uyghur baby name ban to include children under 16. (Photo by Peter Parks/AFP)
Authorities in northwest China’s Xinjiang region have extended a recently introduced ban on “extreme” Islamic names for ethnic Uyghur babies to include anyone up to the age of 16, according to official sources and residents.
The order may soon also include Uyghurs of all ages. In April, official sources told Radio Free Asia (RFA) that “overly religious names”— such as Islam, Quran, Mecca, Jihad, Imam, Saddam, Hajj, and Medina — were banned under the ruling Chinese Communist Party's “Naming Rules For Ethnic Minorities,” and that any babies registered with such names would be barred from the hukou household registration system that gives access to health care and education.
A police officer in Hotan (in Chinese, Hetian) prefecture recently confirmed to RFA that his station in Hotan city’s Elchi district was ordered last month to complete name changes of Uyghurs aged 16 and younger by June 1. However, due to technical issues, the deadline may be extended to July 1, he said.
The officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said “15 names cannot be used, including Arafat,” and that parents should bring both their own and their children’s household registration papers to the police station to make the change.
“We are changing only the names of minors under 16,” he said.
“The ones 16 and above have not been ordered to change yet, due to the difficulty of changing their ID cards and driver’s licenses, so we do not have any directive on changing their names.”
According to the officer, students who have completed primary school must also change the names on their graduation certificates, meaning they must visit both their local police station and education department.
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