Since the 2009 riots in Xinjiang, the Chinese government has systematically enforced restrictions on the civilian practice of religion. The Communist government, officially atheist, has undertaken a measurable crusade against several major religions, most recently Islam. For Xinjiang’s ethnic Uighur population, this has resulted in a dramatic ban on all religious practices that guide children towards separatism and extremism, including major religious events like Ramadan.
In a recent Independent article, Dearden highlights the flagrant dereliction of justice inherent in China’s practices. The government has called upon the people of Xinjiang to report their neighbors, friends, and family should they take part in “luring minors into religious activities”. This subjective legislation is meant to punish Muslim Uighurs based on unsubstantiated hearsay, the result of which threatens to forcefully remove children from their homes into specialized schools to “receive rectification”. In a departure from previous bans on promoting extremist beliefs and dress, China has taken its first step towards controlling social dimensions of child development traditionally held by parents and guardians.
The notion of removing students from their homes and schools only to be put through a state-controlled rectification process is an eerie thought that could have a transformative effect on the future of schooling in China. Instead of providing a support environment that strengthens community ties and promotes children’s rights to an appropriate education as they see fit, the government has imposed specious legislation to grant themselves total control over the well-being of the Muslim children of China.
Although troublesome, the need to “rectify” Muslim children aligns with recent political trends seen from the problematic super power. The continued efforts to enforce hegemony over their own civilians has the potential to create a devastating quagmire in the field of education specifically. The Uighur people of China’s Xinjiang province are in desperate need of support from the international community, which now has the moral imperative to intervene on their behalf.
Dearden, Lizzie. 2016. China bans parents from ‘luring children into religion’ in Muslim province. Retrieved from http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/islam-muslims-in-china-law-xinjiang-rules-education-children-parents-banned-luring-uighur-a7365351.html