China approve ban on the burqa in Xinjiang city with large Muslim population

Urumqi ban will see women prohibited from wearing the full face veil in public places

Legislators in a region of China with a large Muslim population have approved a ban on women wearing a traditional Islamic garment known as a burqa in public, state media has reported.

Northwest China's Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region approved a regulation banning the wearing of the burqa in the regional capital of Urumqi.

The ban on the burqa was "considered and approved" by the Urumqi parliament's Standing Committee in December, Reuters reported.

At the time, many Xinjiang experts warned the outlawing of veils and the heavy-handed enforcement of the rules would further stigmatise the region's minority Uighurs.

Xinjiang, home to the Uighur people who speak a Turkic language, has been beset for years by violence that the government blames on Islamist militants or separatists.

Around 45 per cent of the population of Xinjiang is Muslim. The Uighur minority say that the government's repressive policies and controls on Islam are to blame for provoking spates of unrest there.

Xinhua quoted the regional People's Congress as saying the legislation will go into effect after being amended.

In July, authorities in Urumqi banned all bus passengers from carrying items ranging from cigarette lighters to yogurt and water, in a bid to prevent violent attacks.

In August, Karamay, a northwestern city in Xinjiang, banned people with head scarves, veils and long beards from boarding buses.

Additional reporting by Reuters