An app used by Muslims throughout the world, Quran Majeed, has been removed by Apple at the request of the Chinese government.
The BBC reports that the app was removed after China accused Quran Majeed of posting illegal religious texts.
The elimination of the app was reported by Apple Censorship – a website that monitors apps on Apple’s App Store.
“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,” according to a statement from the app’s creator, PDMS, as reported by the BBC.
“We are trying to get in touch with the Cyberspace Administration of China and relevant Chinese authorities to get this issue resolved”.
PDMS reports that Quran Majeed has 1 million users in China.
Even as the Chinese Communist Party recognises Islam as a religion in the country, China has been accused of human rights violations, and even genocide, against the mostly Muslim Uyghur ethnic group in Xinjiang.
The BBC reported in early 2021 that Uyghur imams had been targeted in China’s Xinjiang crackdown.
While Apple did not respond to requests for comments, it did point journalists 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.”
Neither China nor Apple have said what rules were broken by Quran Majeed in China.
China is one of Apple’s largest markets. Also, Apple’s sources of materials and parts used in phones, computers and tablets is predominantly from China.
Meanwhile, Apple chief executive Tim Cook has been recently accused of hypocrisy from politicians in the U.S. for speaking out about American politics, but staying quiet about China.
Cook is also accused of bowing to the Chinese government over censorship – and not publicly criticizing it for its treatment of Muslim minorities.
Media reported earlier this year that Apple removes apps that are considered off limits by the Chinese government. Topics that apps cannot discuss include Tiananmen Square, the Chinese spiritual movement Falun Gong, the Dalai Lama, and independence for Tibet and Taiwan.
“Currently, Apple is being turned into the censorship bureau of Beijing,” noted Benjamin Ismail, project director at Apple Censorship.
“They need to do the right thing, and then face whatever the reaction is of the Chinese government.”
Another popular religious app, Olive Tree’s Bible app, was also removed this week in China.
“Olive Tree Bible Software was informed during the App Store review process that we are required to provide a permit demonstrating our authorization to distribute an app with book or magazine content in mainland China,” said a spokesperson, according to the BBC.
“Since we did not have the permit and needed to get our app update approved and out to customers, we removed our Bible app from China’s App Store.”