Chinese nursery schools ban religion after little girl recites Quran

The government reiterated rules strictly forbidding the presence of religion in public schools

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The Independent Online

A Chinese province with a large Muslim population has banned religion in nursery schools after a video of a little girl reciting the Quran was posted online.

The government in the northwestern province of Gansu reiterated the fiercely secular communist government's rules forbidding the presence of religion in public schools.

It said the country's constitution and education laws protect children.

"This video has drawn a gasp from the public, as many people are infuriated," a statement from the education authority said.

"The Education Department of Gansu province strongly condemns the act that harms the mental health of the youth, and demands education agencies of all levels to stop it resolutely and strictly bans religion from campuses." 

The video shows the young girl wearing a black Muslim head covering and reciting verses from the Quran as her classmates look on.

Gansu is home to around 1.6 billion Muslims, the third largest population of Muslims in China's provinces and regions, behind Xinjiang and Ningxia.

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Last year, China approved a ban on women wearing the burqa in public in northwest Xinjiang.

Later in the year, Muslim party members, civil servants, students and teachers were told not to fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

China also enforces strict restrictions on religious participation by young people outside of school, particularly in its culturally distinct western regions, where Islam and Tibetan Buddhism are widely practiced.

The government is especially wary of what it sees as the use of religion to promote a non-Chinese cultural identity or independence for Tibet and the northwestern region of Xinjiang.

Additional reporting by Associated Press

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