The Utsuls, a group of around 10,000 who reside in Sanya, a city on the southern Hainan island, are predominantly Muslim.
Last month, the Chinese Community Party issued an order banning traditional Utsul dress — namely the hijab and a long skirt — in schools and government buildings, according to party documents seen by the Post.
The document was titled “Working Document regarding the strengthening of overall governance over Huixin and Huihui Neighbourhood,” referring to the two areas on Sanya in which most of the Utsuls live.
An image of an Islamic school in Sanya, Hainan, China.
Among the new regulations are requirements for new mosques to be smaller, a vaguely-worded ban on buildings with “Arabic tendencies,” a ban on Arabic script on shop fronts, and a ban on placing the Mandarin characters for “halal” and “Islamic” on premises, the Post reported.
Bitter Winter, an Italy-based website that covers human rights in China, has also published a full copy of the regulations.
“The official line is that no ethnic minority can wear traditional garments on school grounds but other ethnic minorities [in Sanya] don’t wear traditional garments in their daily life,” an Utsul community worker told the Post.
“It makes no difference to them but to us the hijab is an integral part of our culture, if we take it off it’s like stripping off our clothes,” the worker added.
The location of Sanya, on Hainan, in southeast China.
Small protests broke out last month in the two neighborhoods of Sanya where Utsuls live, the newspaper said, adding that a photo on social media “showed a group of girls wearing headscarves reading from text books outside Tianya Utsul primary school while surrounded by police officers.”
In Xinjiang, China’s most westerly province, at least 1 million Uighur Muslims and other ethnic groups have been detained in hundreds of camps masquerading as “reeducation centres.” There they are brainwashed and, in some cases, forced to work on production lines.
Hong Kong protesters rally in support of Xinjiang Uighurs’ human rights in Hong Kong, China, December 22, 2019.