China bans burqa in major Muslim city

Muslim women in Urumqi, home to a large Uyghur community, will no longer be allowed to wear the burqa in public.Reuters

Women have been banned from wearing the burqa in the capital of Xinjiang province, home to China's largest Muslim community in an attempt to "curb growing extremism".

State media announced the ban in Urumqi, a city of 3.1 million people, on Saturday.

"Burqas are not traditional dress for Uygur women," the statement said. "The regulation is seen as an effort to curb growing extremism that forced Uygur women to abandon their colourful traditional dress and wear black burqas."

Uyghurs are a predominantly Muslim, Turkic-speaking people, who account for 45.8 per cent of the population in the northwestern region of Xinjiang, according to the 2010 census.

There have been a number of clashes between the Uyghurs and Han Chinese migrants in recent years. The Chinese government has promised to crack down on extremism in Xinjiang, and has blamed extremist terror attacks elsewhere in China on Islamists from this region.

But human rights advocates have said that the government's laws, which claim to tackle separatism and extremism, have infringed on the rights of the Uyghurs.

The announcement also made reference to the ban on the burqa in France and Belgium, both of which came into force in 2011.

The ban in Urumqi was approved by local government last month, but given the go ahead from regional authorities this weekend, according to CNN.