China’s censorship continues as the country continues to crack down on services it doesn’t find to be in support of its system of governance.
Earlier this morning, we published the news about LinkedIn’s plan to exit the social media space in China, the other western tech company still operating in China well enough is Apple’s App Store due to the huge presence of iPhone users in the country.
Apple in compliance with the Chinese authorities has agreed to therefore take down the Quran Majeed app from the App Store in China.
The app which is used by millions of Muslims across the globe doesn’t have a favorable stance in China due to the government’s view on religion.
Even though we think the removal of the application is due to China’s stance on religion, the official reason for the removal according to a report by BBC is that the app had hosted “Illegal religious texts.”
Requests by the media organization for an official response from the Chinese government haven’t been successful.
The removal was first noticed by Apple Censorship – a website that monitors apps on Apple’s App Store globally.
In a statement from the app’s maker, PDMS, the company said: “According to Apple, our app Quran Majeed has been removed from the China App Store because it includes content that is illegal.”
“We are trying to get in touch with the Cyberspace Administration of China and relevant Chinese authorities to get this issue resolved”.
The company said it had close to one million users in China.
Although the ruling Chinese Communist Party officially recognizes Islam as a religion in the country, the government has however been accused of several human right violation as well as genocide against its Muslim minority ethnic group called the Uyghur in Xinjiang.
The country sets up “reorientation camps” which according to the Chinese officials helps to remove bad behaviors from the Uyghurs’ minds.
Earlier this year the BBC reported that Uyghur imams had been targeted in China’s Xinjiang crackdown.
Apple declined to comment, but directed the BBC to its Human Rights Policy, which states: “We’re required to comply with local laws, and at times there are complex issues about which we may disagree with governments.”
The term “Illegal religious text” is still yet unknown and what part of the Chinese law the app has broken hasn’t been stated officially.
But for an application that is being used and trusted by over 35 million users globally, it might not be so illegal after all.
Last month, both Apple and Google removed a tactical voting app devised by jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
Russian authorities had threatened to fine the two companies if they refused to drop the app, which told users who could unseat ruling party candidates.
The fact that China is one of Apple’s biggest markets meant that the company needs to comply with the Chinese authority or it will be kicked out and that will have a devastating effect on the company’s supply chain.
The fact that Apple needed to bend its back in order to comply with the Chinese authorities has led to multiple criticisms from multiple politicians in the US.
Tim Cook, Apple CEO had also been criticized for hypocrisy for his stance on American politics but his quietness about China.
Back in 2017 when President Trump issued a major travel ban on seven Muslim-majority countries, Tim Cook was among his critics however, his quietness over the inhumane treatment of Muslim minorities in China is appalling.
In fact, the New York Times earlier this year reported that the company will gladly take down any app in China if deemed off limit by the Chinese government.
Another popular religious app, Olive Tree’s Bible App, was also taken down this week in China even though the company behind the app withdrew the application by itself.
Olive Tree did not respond to a request for comment.
Benjamin Ismail, project director at Apple Censorship, said: “Currently Apple is being turned into the censorship bureau of Beijing.
“They need to do the right thing, and then face whatever the reaction is of the Chinese government.”
That is why Microsoft made the announcement that it was exiting the social media market in China which will lead to the LinkedIn being shut down and replaced with just a job portal called InJobs.
The company stated it clearly that having to comply with the Chinese authorities had become increasingly challenging.