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China: Police order Muslims to hand over Koran and prayer mats

China: Police order Muslims to hand over Koran and prayer mats
This picture taken on June 30, 2014 shows Chinese Muslims reading the Koran at a mosque in Tancheng, in eastern China's Shandong province, at the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan - AFP PHOTO

Beijing: Chinese authorities have reportedly ordered Muslims to hand over all religious items including prayer mats and copies of the Koran. If not, Muslims will have to face severe punishment.

According to Radio Free Asia, reports have emerged from Kashgar, Hotan and other regions of similar practices starting last week.

The spokesman for the exile World Uyghur Congress group, Dilxat Raxit said they received a notification saying that every single ethnic Uyghur must hand in any Islam-related items from their own home.

Copies of the Koran and related items must be handed into the government authorities, and there are will be notices being broadcast via WeChat, China’s most popular social media app.

According to local officials, Xinjiang authorities earlier this year, began removing all Korans published more than five years ago due to extremist content.

A campaign ‘Three Illegals and One Item’ campaign that was underway in Xinjiang labeled the Koran as an ‘illegal’ religious items owned by mostly Muslim Uyghurs.

This operation bans ‘illegal’ publicity, religious activities, religious teaching, and items believed to be tools of terrorism including flammable objects, and knives.

The Uyghur American Association said in a recent press release that China has introduced new regulations that further criminalise religious practice and belief.

The Uyghur Human Rights Project has asked China to respect international human rights standards on freedom of religion and to end the targeting of Uyghurs. China says it is facing threats from domestic cults and radical Islam.