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Muslim Baby (Photo : Getty Images)

China’s Xinjiang has increased restrictions on Muslims living in the area. The ongoing crackdown has prohibited Muslim women from wearing niqab and men with “abnormal beards” from accessing public transportation services--and now, even Islamic baby names are banned.

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About 50 percent of China’s 23 million Muslim population lives in Xinjiang.

“This is just the latest in a slew of new regulations restricting religious freedom in the name of countering ‘religious extremism,’” said Human Rights Watch (HRW) China Director Sophie Richardson in a statement.

“These policies are blatant violations of domestic and international protections on the rights to freedom of belief and expression. If the government is serious about bringing stability and harmony to the region as it claims, it should roll back--not double down on--repressive policies,” she said.

According to The Guardian newspaper in London, names like Islam, Qur’an, Saddam and Makkah, as well as names referring to the star and the crescent moon symbols, are all banned by the Communist Party. Children with such names will not be issued household registration, which is needed in accessing social services, health care and education.

A full list of banned names has not been released, and the qualifications of religious names are still vague.

China accuses Uyghur extremists of terror attacks. However, according to experts outside China, Beijing has overstressed the Uyghur threat and the oppressive local policies are to blame for the increasing violence in the region which has taken the lives of hundreds since 2009.

Radio Free Asia reported of the dismissal of an ethnic Uyghur official by Xinjiang authorities last month. The official held her wedding ceremony at home, following Islamic traditions, rather than at a venue sanctioned by the government.

The ban arises from the government’s onslaught on Xinjiang’s Muslim Uyghur minority. The Communist Party holds religious extremists responsible for violence, leaving hundreds dead. However, Uyghur rights groups say that religious expression is violated by the crackdowns.

The ban broadens the restrictions, depriving access to train and air transport to women wearing niqab and men with beards.

The new law in China's Xinjiang formalized the restriction on beards as well as baby names that “exaggerate religious fervor.”