Officials in the Xinjiang region of northwestern China have been cutting the skirts of Uyghurs on the spot in the streets to enforce a ban on ethnic minorities wearing long skirts, sparking an outcry among Uyghurs worldwide over the latest example of heavy state intrusion in their lives.
The Turkic-speaking Uyghurs already face tight government restrictions on men’s facial hair, the naming of children, kitchen cutlery and burial rites. The restrictions on Islamic practices, and curbs on the culture and language of the Uyghur people, including videos and music are purportedly aimed at combatting religion extremism.
But as photos of the skirt cutting made the rounds on social media, Uyghurs say the enforced ban on long skirts, which are worn for comfort in the hot summers and have no connection to Islam, simply add insult to injury.
“This campaign has nothing to do with religious extremism and this is not the way to “civilize” any group of people in the world. In fact, the campaign itself is extreme,” said Dilxat Raxit, spokesman for the World Uyghur Congress, which represents the ethnic minority Uyghur group overseas.
“This is an attack on Uyghur women, Uyghur people’s dignity and way of life, which will only create more tension in East Turkestan,” he told RFA, using the Uyghur’s name for the region that China calls the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR).
“Nowhere in the world does a government keep itself busy with cutting off women’s dresses below their waist. This is absolutely ridiculous,” added Raxit.
“The international community should not allow China to humiliate Uyghur women in such a way in the name of promoting “civilized modern life” among Uyghur women,” he said.
Reported by Alim Seytoff for RFA's Uyghur Service. Written in English By Paul Eckert.