Muslim Uyghur children in Xinjiang province Source: WikiMedia

While the world's attention is focused on Islamophobia in Europe and the United States, China is majorly cracking down on its Muslim minority population.

The Chinese government has banned certain Islamic names for newborn babies in the Muslim-majority province of Xinjiang. Islam, Quran, Mecca, Jihad, Imam, Saddam, Hajj and Medina are all banned, according to the document titled "Naming Rules for Ethnic Minorities," as reported by Radio Free Asia.

"You're not allowed to give names with a strong religious flavor, such as Jihad or names like that," an official said. 

"The most important thing here is the connotations of the name ... [it mustn't have] connotations of holy war or of splittism [Xinjiang independence]."

Children who are given the banned names will be unable to access social services, healthcare and education. The naming rules follow a ban earlier this year on burqas, veils and "abnormal" beards in the province.

Uyghur family at market Source: WikiMedia

For the 10 million-strong ethnic Muslim Uyghur population of Xinjiang, the recent crackdown is only the latest in decades of state sponsored oppression. While China's government strongly denies committing any abuses and says the latest measures are an attempt to crackdown on "extremism," activists say otherwise. 

Amnesty International's 2016/2017 report said that oppression of the community has remained severe over the past year.

"The government continued to detain ethnic Uyghur writers and Uyghur language website editors," the report said. "The government continued to violate the right to freedom of religion, and crack down on all unauthorized religious gatherings."

The 2017 report by Human Rights Watch accused the Chinese government of continued "restrictions on fundamental human rights and pervasive ethnic and religious discrimination."

"The Chinese government has long justified censorship in minority areas as a measure to maintain 'ethnic harmony,'" the HRW said. "But ironically, this censorship fuels bigotry and ignorance – heightening already-strained ethnic relations."

Muslims aren't the only ones to suffer however. Christians and Tibetan Buddhists also face severe challenges in the country, as well as activists and journalists. 

Uyghurs burning a Chinese flag at a protest in Turkey Source: WikiMedi

Beyond addressing names, clothing and facial hair, recent laws specifically say it is not allowed to refuse to listen to state radio or watch state television.  The new rules also provide guidance on how the Muslim community can raise children. 

"Many aspects of Uyghur cultural and religious life are now being deemed ‘abnormal’ and ‘manifestations’ of extremism, and thus subject to punitive ­enforcement," James Leibold, a professor at Australia’s La Trobe University said, according to Newsweek.

While there has been an uptick in violence in China's Muslim region, which the government blames on Islamist terrorists, activists and experts say it's a reaction to state-sponsored oppression.