CHINA is offering up to $8000 to informants who report neighbors who wear beards, seen as a sign of Islam.
Informants in parts of Xinjiang’s Aksu prefecture, an epicenter of the region’s ethnic tensions, can earn anywhere from $8 to $8,000 for reporting their neighbors’ illegal religious or “separatist activity” — which can now include facial hair, according to Chinese newspaper The Global Times.
“That’s a lot of money for Uighurs in the south [of the region]. There they are very poor. This is an incentive to betray their fellow Uighurs to get some financial gain,” Alim Seytoff, spokesman for the Uighur rights advocacy group World Uyghur Congress (WUC),said,
Official disapproval of facial hair is nothing new in Xinjiang, a western region that abuts Central Asia, contains significant oil reserves and is home to large numbers of Uighurs, a traditionally Muslim ethnic group
In recent months, other religious restrictions imposed by local governments have barred women wearing traditional headscarves from entering public venues. In one case in Aksu, authorities placed the Chinese flag at the head of a mosque, in an apparent bid to make worshippers bow to a symbol of the state.