China has extended a recently-imposed ban on “extreme” names for Islamic newborns in the Muslim-dominated region of Xinjiang to teenagers up to the age of 16.
The extension, represented as Order No. 4425, requires all Uyghur parents to change the names of their children 16 and below if they are listed in the region-wide ban, according to a WeChat announcement of Xinjiang’s Public Security Bureau.
An anonymous police officer in Hotan told Radio Free Asia that his station was ordered to finish name changes for the age cohort by June 1. Due to technical issues, however, he believed that the deadline may be extended to July 1.
“We are changing only the names of minors under 16. The ones 16 and above have not been ordered to change yet, due to the difficulty of changing their ID cards and driver’s licenses, so we do not have any directive on changing their names,” he said.
The move is all part of China’s crackdown on “religious extremism” in the region. There have since been 29 reported banned names, including Islam, Quran, Mecca, Hajj, Imam, Jihad, Medina and Saddam.
According to the officer, the locals “have no objections” over the extended name ban, which consequently requires students who completed primary school to change their names on their graduation certificates.
Another Hotan official told RFA that there are “around seven names” covered by the ban and that the change process must be free of charge.
“For example, they have to change names like Arafat. My colleague’s son’s name was Arafat and he was made to change it. He is a Xinjiang Medical University student,” the official said without specifying the student’s age.
Uyghurs in China have suffered a long history of violent repression. For a lengthy period, the Turkish government became the group’s biggest supporter — welcoming some 300,000 refugees — until they were suspected as perpetrators in an Istanbul gun massacre on New Year’s Day. The incident claimed the lived of 39 people, according to Quartz.