- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Chinese government has banned more than two dozen Islamic names in an attempt to “curb religious fervor” among its Muslim minority population.

“Jihad,” “Muhammad,” and “Arafat” are a small sampling of names that are prohibited for over 10 million Uighurs in China’s western region of Xinjiang, The New York Times reported.

A “List of Banned Ethnic Minority Names” was provided to The Times and confirmed by security officials in Urumqi and other cities.

Dilxat Raxit, a spokesman for the World Uyghur Congress based in Munich, lamented the “increasingly hostile” rules for China’s Muslim population.

“Uighur people have to be cautious if they want to give their children names they are happy with, and at the same time avoid punishment from the government,” the activist said.

Sophie Richardson, the China director of Human Rights Watch, called it “the latest absurd restriction that the Chinese government has imposed on people in Xinjiang.”

Cultural battles over Islamic names is not endemic to China. A case in the U.S. involving a Georgia couple was recently resolved when the state reversed course and issued a birth certificate with the surname “Allah” for their daughter.

Elizabeth Handy and Bilal Walk turned to the ACLU of Georgia in March over a protracted legal battle with the Peach State. Their 3-year-old daughter was denied the name Zalykha Graceful Lorraina Allah until Friday.

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