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Anti-veil 'beauty' campaign raises tensions in East Turkistan

The "Project Beauty" campaign aims to discourage women from covering their faces

Source : World Bulletin / 26 Nov 2013

Chinese authorities have launched the "Project Beauty" campaign, which aims to discourage women from covering their faces — a religious practice of some Muslim Uighurs women in the East Turkistan (Xinjiang) province.

A Xinjiang government web portal promoting Project Beauty did not mention banning veils directly, but listed its goals in promoting local beauty products and other goods, as well as encouraging women to be "practitioners of modern culture".

"We need to hold onto our traditions and they should understand that," said a 25-year-old woman who has been registered twice.

Those who wore veils were made to watch a film about the joys of exposing their faces.

"The movie doesn't change a lot of people's minds," said the young woman, who, like others declined to give her name.

The residents of Kashgar, the capital of the Xinjiang province, say veil restrictions sparked at least one deadly conflict this year near the city, where 90 per cent of the area's 3.3 million residents are ethnic Uighur.

"Project Beauty" stands could be seen around the city, and a tailor said campaign staff had instructed him not to make the full-length robes often worn with the face veils.

The Uighur people declared the independence of East Turkistan in October 1933 but the region was brought under the control of communist China in 1949.

The Chinese government has encouraged the mass migration of Han Chinese, a majority ethnic group of eastern Asia, which has subdued Uighur influence in the region and made them a minority in their own land.

Muslim Uighurs have complained that China has restrained Uighurs' religious, commercial and cultural activities.


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