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Chinese city bans full face veils in public


Beijing: The city of Urumqi, capital of the conflict-ridden Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in northwestern China, has passed a regulation banning the wearing of full face veils and full body coverings in public, the state-run China Daily newspaper reported Friday.

The new regulation, passed Wednesday by the standing committee of the Urumqi people's congress, is expected to come into force on Jan 1; however it first has to be ratified by the regional people's congress.

Xinjiang is one of five autonomous regions in China and home to the Uyghur Muslim minority group which co-exists uneasily with the Han majority.

A recent report by the Regional Bureau of Religious Affairs said the number of women wearing such clothing in Xinjiang had significantly increased over the past few years.

According to the China Daily, the regional authorities consider full face veils and full body coverings a symbol of religious extremism which the central government blames for an increase in terrorist attacks.

Clashes between the Uyghur minority and Han majority have intensified since 2013 and the conflict has resulted in 200 deaths, according to official figures, and several death sentences for those responsible -- all of them Uyghurs -- for some of the attacks.

The regulation is not the first of its kind to be approved in the region.

Last month, Xinjiang's people's assembly passed a regulation banning people from wearing clothes or logos linked to religious extremism.

In August, amidst tension between Uyghurs and Chinese security forces, the city of Karamay, in northern Xinjiang, passed a law that prohibited women with full face veils and men with large beards from using buses.

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