Apple has removed a popular Quran app from its app store in China that permitted users to read or listen to the Quran. ‘Quran Majeed’ is claimed to have hosted illegal content, although it is not clear what the controversial contents precisely were. The app was removed following a request by government officials.

‘Quran Majeed’ was developed by Pakistan Data Management Services. The developer told the BBC, “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”.

“We are trying to get in touch with the Cyberspace Administration of China and relevant Chinese authorities to get this issue resolved,” PDMS added. The app has close to one million users in China.

“As per our understanding, Chinese law requires additional documentation for some apps to be available on the App Store on the Chinese mainland,” Ahmed said.

“Apps with book and magazine content must secure an internet publishing permit from China’s National Press and Publication Administration (NPPA),” he added.

Apple’s self-censorship comes amid the persecution of the indigenous Muslim Turkic Uyghur peoples living in China’s strategic and resource-rich Xinjiang province. The State Department reported in March this year in its human rights report for 2020 that “genocide and crimes against humanity occurred during the year against the predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang.”

The report highlighted crimes such as the arbitrary imprisonment of more than 1 million civilians, forced sterilization, rape, torture, forced labor and “draconian restrictions” on freedom of religion, freedom of expression and freedom of movement.

Although Beijing has acknowledged the existence of the camps in Xinjiang, it asserted that they are vocational skills training centers necessary to tackle “extremism.” Western countries are increasingly opposed to Beijing’s treatment of the Uyghurs amid growing tensions between the United States and its allies and China.

In addition to the “more than 1 million” Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minority groups it said were in extrajudicial internment camps, the report said there were “an additional 2 million subjected to daytime-only ‘re-education’ training,” a new reference not included in the previous year’s report.

The German report also includes a previously unreported cache of research produced by Chinese academics and officials on Beijing’s intent behind the birth control policies in Xinjiang, where official data shows birth rates have already dropped by 48.7% between 2017 and 2019.

And a recent Amnesty International report in June this year said that China has created a “dystopian hellscape” in the western region of Xinjiang, where Muslim ethnic minorities have become the target of systematic and state-organized “mass internment and torture tantamount to crimes against humanity,” citing testimonies of dozens of victims and eyewitnesses.

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