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Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Apple removes China’s most popular Quran app in ongoing crackdown against Uyghur Muslims


The Chinese government has not responded to the media’s request for a comment.

Apple has taken down the Quran Majeed app in China for allegedly containing “illegal religious texts”, the BBC reported on Saturday.

“According to Apple, our app Quran Majeed has been removed from the China App store because it includes content that requires additional documentation from Chinese authorities,” said PDMS, the creator of one of the world’s most popular Quran apps.

The BBC said the removal of the app was first reported by Apple Censorship, which monitors global mobile applications on the tech giant’s official store.

“We are trying to get in touch with the Cyberspace Administration of China and relevant Chinese authorities to get this issue resolved,” PDMS said, noting that almost one million people in China use the app.

Quran Majeed is available across the world on the App Store and is used by millions of Muslims, with nearly 150,000 reviews.

The BBC reached out to the Chinese government for comment but has yet to receive a response.

While Apple declined to comment on the matter, it directed the BBC to its Human Rights Policy, while failing to specify the exact laws the app has allegedly breached in China.

“We’re required to comply with local laws, and at times there are complex issues about which we may disagree with governments,” read one part of the policy.

The latest move comes as part of a wider anti-Islam campaign launched by the Chinese government, which is already accused of carrying out human rights violations and genocide against the Muslim Uyghur ethnic group in Xinjiang.

Uyghur imams are among those targeted in the crackdown on Muslims in the Chinese territory.

Apple chief executive Tim Cook himself has been accused of complying with the Chinese government by staying silent over its reported crimes against Muslim minorities, despite his vocal opposition of US politics, including the former Donald Trump administration.

Anti-Muslim crackdown in Assam triggers ‘Boycott Indian products’ calls on Twitter

Earlier this month, a former Chinese police detective in exile who identified as Jiang, revealed to CNN details of systematic torture against Uyghur Muslims.

Jiang said he and his colleagues beat up Muslims during interrogations, where authorities used different torture methods. This included children as young as 14.

The whistleblower said people were shackled, left hanging from ceilings and were subjected to sexual violence, electrocutions and other disturbing interrogation techniques.

“Police would step on the suspect’s face and tell him to confess,” said the former detective, admitting that none of those he arrested had actually committed a crime.

In 2018, the UN revealed that an estimate of 2 million Uyghurs and Muslim minorities were forced into “political camps for indoctrination” in western Xinjiang.

This came after reports from the previous year showed that 21% of arrests recorded in China were from the same area where the Uyghurs are located.

Recent reports also stated that women in Xinjiang are being subjected to forced sterilisation as part of the Chinese regime’s efforts to slash births from the minority group.

‘Complying’ with the Chinese government

With China being one of Apple’s biggest markets, the tech-giant has been accused by some of being an alleged puppet thats acts upon the Chinese government’s censorship requests.

A New York Times [NYT] report from May said apps are not allowed to discuss Tianamen Square, the Chinese spiritual movement Falun Gong, the Dalai Lama, as well as Tibet and Taiwan.

NYT also said Apple agreed to transport Chinese customers’ data to computers owned and run by China’s state-owned company.

According to the Times, at least 55,000 apps have disappeared from the App Store in China since 2017. Tools used to organise pro-democracy protests have also been blocked.

Commenting on the figures presented by the NYT, Apple claimed some developers removed their own apps, though this has been blamed on restrictions imposed on them by the Chinese regime.

This was the case for Amazon’s audiobook app, Audible, which was removed “due to permit requirements”.

Last week, LinkedIn said it will launch “InJobs” instead of the localised version of its app, which was introduced in 2014, after facing a “more challenging operating environment and greater compliance requirements”.

“Given this, we’ve made the decision to sunset the current localised version of LinkedIn, which is how people in China access LinkedIn’s global social media platform, later this year,” said the job search website.

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