Muslims in Xinjiang up to age 16 must change ‘overly religious’ names


A summary of the top news in Chinese politics and current affairs for June 5, 2017. Part of the daily SupChina news roundup "South China Sea: Does China have ‘contempt for other nations’ interests’ or is the U.S. ‘irresponsible’?"

Combination of satellite photos shows Chinese-controlled North Island, part of the Paracel Islands group in the South China Sea, on February 15, 2017 (top) and on March 6, 2017. Planet Labs/Handout via REUTERS

A ban on “overly religious” baby names in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region that SupChina noted on April 25 has now been extended to all children up to age 16, the Guardian reports. Names outlawed include Islam, Quran, Mecca, Jihad, Imam, Saddam, Hajj, Medina, and Arafat — children with such names will have to change them before they receive their national identification cards at age 16.

For more on the politics of religious names among Xinjiang’s Uyghurs and a complete list of banned names, see this piece by the anthropology researcher Darren Byler in the Milestones journal.

The Guardian says that the new name ban “coincided with millions gathering at 50,000 individual rallies across Xinjiang this week.” State media reported that “more than a quarter of the region’s population sang the national anthem at 9am on May 29 and pledged allegiance to the Communist Party.” Last month, SupChina noted reports that Xinjiang authorities purchased $8.7 million in DNA-testing equipment for a large-scale collection, far more than any other region in the country.