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The Chinese Communist Party has intensified its persecution against religious minorities in recent years. This was perhaps best demonstrated last year when Apple removed a Bible and Quran app from its Chinese version of its app store at the request of Chinese officials. Apple appeared to justify its move by pointing media outlets to its small print. When asked by the BBC, it offered a statement from its Human Rights policy, which reads: “We’re required to comply with local laws, and at times there are complex issues about which we may disagree with governments and other stakeholders on the right path forward “
The Quraan Majeed app was reported to have over five million downloads on the Google Play Store at the time while the Bible app by Olive Tree has just over one million.
The developer of the Quran Majeed app told Insider: “According to Apple, our app Quran Majeed has been removed from the China App Store because it includes content that is illegal in China as determined by the CAC, which is not in compliance with the App Store Review Guidelines.
“We are trying to get in touch with CAC and relevant Chinese authorities to get this issue resolved as we had close to a million users for our app in China that have been impacted.”
Two months after the apps were banned, new regulations came into place in China banning all foreign organisations or individuals from spreading religious content online unless they have a licence from China’s religious regulator.
It was also reported in 2019 that the Chinese regime began closing churches and jailing pastors.
Lian Xi, a professor at Duke University in North Carolina, told the Observer at the time: “The government has orchestrated a campaign to ‘sinicise’ Christianity, to turn Christianity into a fully domesticated religion that would do the bidding of the party.”
And Huang Xiaoning, pastor of the Guangzhou Bible Reformed Church, added: “The Chinese Communist party (CCP) wants to be the God of China and the Chinese people. But according to the Bible only God is God. The government is scared of the churches.”
Ying Fuk Tsang, director of the Christian Study Centre on Chinese Religion and Culture at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, also shed light on the repressive policies.
He said: “The goal of the crackdown is not to eradicate religions.
“President Xi Jinping is trying to establish a new order on religion, suppressing its blistering development. [The government] aims to regulate the ‘religious market’ as a whole.”
Last month, the US imposed travel bans on Chinese officials as punishment for the country’s ongoing religious discrimination.
In a statement, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the sanctions are being applied to Chinese officials who “are believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, policies or actions aimed at suppressing religious and spiritual practitioners, members of ethnic minority groups, dissidents, human rights defenders, journalists, labour organisers, civil society organisers, and peaceful protests in China and beyond”.
The move came as China was condemned for its treatment of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang.
The United Nations says at least one million Uighurs have been detained in so-called “counter-extremism centres” in Xinjiang.
Human rights groups have said China’s treatment of the Uighurs amounts to genocide and crimes against humanity.
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Beijing has rejected these allegations and says its policies towards the Uighurs, as well as other minorities, are necessary to fend off extremism.
There are about 12 million Uighurs, mostly Muslim, living in Xinjiang.
They speak their own language, which is similar to Turkish, and see themselves as culturally and ethnically closer to Central Asian nations than Han Chinese culture.
They make up less than half of the Xinjiang population.
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