In fighting religious extremism, capital of China's Muslim region bans veiled robes

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The regional capital of China's restive western region of Xinjiang has introduced a law banning veiled robes in public places.

The measure in the predominantly Muslim region comes as Beijing intensifies a campaign against religious extremism that it blames for the violence that has left hundreds dead in the past 20 months.

The law, announced by state media and judicial authorities Thursday, was passed by the Urumqi legislature but needs endorsement at the regional level before going into effect.

The announcement did not clarify what is considered a veiled robe.

Authorities target what they call manifestations of religious extremism, such as beards and veils. Critics say they are not necessarily expressions of extremism but cultural choices.

Apart from Uighurs, ethnic Han Chinese make up 41 percent of the population.