Uighur Muslims in China's Xinjiang region are facing ban from local authorities for Islamic wedding ceremonies, a report said on Tuesday. The restrictions are reportedly in place in Kashgar city for over year.
Kashgar officials pushed Uighur couples to marry only by obtaining government-issued marriage license because the authorities viewed the Islamic wedding ritual as a form of "religious extremism," a source told Radio Free Asia (RFA). They also punished couples for having the Islamic wedding ceremony and deemed them "illegal marriages" if they failed to get the official marriage license, the source reportedly explained.
"They started restricting nikah (marriage) a long time ago," the source said, according to the report.
An official in Kashgar confirmed that no Islamic weddings have taken place for a couple of years. The authorities told the residents they were denied permissions to hold the wedding ceremonies because they were not allowed to have people come to their houses and gather as it was "dangerous for stability."
"It's been something like a year, a year or two. They're just getting the stamp and taking [their brides] home," an official told RFA, adding that the people got used to the idea of not holding the Islamic wedding ceremony. "They're all used to it, OK? They're used to it."
The Xinjiang region in far west China is home to the Uighur Muslims, who are religious and ethnic minorities of the communist country. They have faced decades-long persecution at the hands of the Chinese government, who forced them into concentration and labor camps. The authorities reportedly monitored the Uighurs for participating in rituals such as weddings or funerals.
In November 2019, the Chinese government was accused of sending Han Chinese men to the homes of Uighur women, whose husbands were detained in concentration camps. Under the "Pair Up and Become Family" program, the men were told to be monitor the Uighur houses and often sleep with the women. The government defended the program saying it was designed to "promote ethnic unity."