China bans ‘Muhammad’, ‘Jihad’, and ‘Medina’ as baby names in Muslim region

The Chinese government in April 2017 further tightening its grip on Muslims in western China, has prohibited parents from choosing names such as “Muhammad,” “Arafat” and “Jihad” for their children. The ban is a part of the government’s effort to curb religious fervor in the region. Western China or the western region of Xinjiang is home to over 10 million Uighurs, a Muslim minority group. The government considers Xinjiang a hotbed of Islamic extremism, violence and separatist thought. But many Uighurs say the government’s strict limits on worship and speech are responsible for tensions in the region. The list of names, a copy of which was provided by Uighur activists, is titled, “List of Banned Ethnic Minority Names.” It bans more than two dozen names, including “Mujahid” and “Medina.”

The government fears the region to breed Islamic extremism, violence and separatist thought. The minority group on the other hand states that it is the government’s restrictions and strict limits imposed on speech and worship that have led to the rise of tension in the region. In the case of defiance, the parents would risk losing critical benefits for their children including education and health care.The advocates fighting for the rights of the minority group state that the ban shows the length to which the Chinese government would go to limit the civil liberties of Uighurs in the name of fighting terrorism. According to Dilxat Raxit, a spokesman for the World Uyghur Congress (a group that advocates self-determination for Xinjiang), the Chinese policies are becoming increasingly hostile and the Uighur have to be extremely cautious if they want to give their children the names chosen by them and avoid punishment from the government at the same time.

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