Authorities in China have banned Muslim citizens from naming their children in an “overly religious” way.
Residents of the country’s northwest frontier province of Xinjiang have been told they cannot choose names such as Islam, Saddam and Mecca.
If they disobey the order, they risk the child being denied official registration, potentially forfeiting access to education, healthcare and social welfare.
The ban is the latest effort by authorities to crack down on China’s 10-million strong Muslim Uighur population. Recently, this ethnic group was told its members should not grow beards or wear veils.
A police official in Urumqi explained on Radio Free Asia: “You’re not allowed to give names with a strong religious flavour, such as Jihad or names like that. The most important thing here is the connotations of the name . . . [it mustn’t have] connotations of holy war or of separatism.”
The radio station reported that other banned names include Quran, Imam, Haj and Medina.
The Chinese government believes that Islamist extremists intent on creating an independent Xinjiang are behind violent attacks in the region, triggering the latest moves.