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Chinese beards labeled 'hazardous,' China offers rewards for ratting out beards

Chinese beards that are deemed too long are now being connected with potential Muslim extremism by Chinese officials.
Wikimedia Commons

Chinese beards have just made a watchdog list of other potential terrorist giveaways. Listen up members of ZZ Top – you may want to rethink an Asian tour. Excessively long beards are being scrutinized in China these days, and the so-called suspicious act of growing out a beard has been lumped in with other offenses like “separatism preaching,” “training for terror attacks” and provoking “conflicts between religious sects.”

According to UPI on Friday, clean-shaven citizens can profit by remaining vigilant for bushy beards. Beard-blowing scandalmongers who tattle on their neighbors can pocket an equivalent of up to $8,000. Officials in the western China region of Xinjiang are prepared to offer the reward to whistle blowers for information about “a wide range of intelligence from those wearing beards to spreading information to topple the authorities.” UPI reports that the Chinese government is collecting the information “in order to prevent and combat crimes and maintain social stability.”

The “spot beard – get paid” citizen alert initiative is dangling potential incentives of 50 yuan to up to 50,000 yuan ($8 dollars to $8,000) to snitching citizens. The disapproval of facial hair is evidently linked to potential Muslim extremism, says the Wall Street Journal. Chinese Muslims in the region are increasingly discouraged from “wearing overly bushy beards or—in the case of women—covering their hair with scarves,” says the Journal.

However, since many Muslims wear beards as an indication of their faith, many are calling this new “unwritten” beard ban an attack that reeks of racial profiling. In the ethnically volatile Xinjiang area, the extremist Uighur Muslim minority group has been blamed for recent terrorist attacks, putting officials on alert. Last October, a car driven by three Uighur members into Beijing’s Tienanmen Square killed two tourists. More recently, a stabbing spree in March in the southwestern city of Kunming, Xinjiang, carried out by Uighur radicals, left 30 dead.

Reports the Inquisitr:

However, the opposition and rights groups say authorities are greatly exaggerating the threat to justify the ulterior agenda of establishing stricter control and regulation on Uighurs. The rights group strongly believes that religious and cultural restrictions may soon start being enforced once identification begins.

China has blamed the increased violence on “separatists with ties to foreign terrorist groups, while rights groups say authorities exaggerate the threat to justify religious and cultural restrictions on Uighurs,” says the Herald Live. The anti-beard campaign asks that individuals report long beards to a tip line.

“This is common practice in the international community. It is therefore natural for Xinjiang to release such a notice and I believe it will play an effective role in combating terrorism as well as maintaining social stability,” Turgunjan Tursun, a research fellow at the Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

Despite what seems like an obvious push for racial profiling, the Chinese government denies any ethnic transgressions and maintains that the rights of all minorities are protected, including their expressions of faith. “There is no such thing as a ban on public displays of Islamic practice in Xinjiang or anywhere else in the country,” the government’s English-language mouthpiece China Daily said in a commentary last year. “Freedom of religious beliefs and practices are respected and protected throughout the country.”

Give us your thoughts on this obtuse beard-ban and reward program. An effective way to keep an eye peeled for terrorists? Or a blinkered blunder of bigotry? Sound off below.

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