In response to Chinese government requests, Apple has removed Quran Majeed, a popular app for reading the Islamic religious text and other prayer-related information in China, according to a BBC report. The move is part of a larger Chinese effort to stifle foreign content or, at the very least, make it more difficult for it to exist within the Great Firewall. LinkedIn announced just yesterday that it would be removing the Chinese version of its site by the end of the year, citing increased state compliance requirements.
With over 35 million users worldwide, Quran Majeed is one of China’s most popular religious apps.
In other countries, the Quran Majeed app is still available on the App Store and Google Play, though Google Play is unavailable in China (people can access it via a VPN, however).
According to the Apple Censorship website, which monitors apps on Apple’s App Store, Quran Majeed was recently removed.
Even though China recognizes Islam as a religion, it has been condemned for human rights violations and genocide against the Muslim-majority Uyghur population in Xinjiang.
We’ve contacted Apple for comment on this story, and we’ll update you as we learn more.
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Over the years, Apple has sparked a lot of discussion about how it complies with local regulations. According to critics, many local content-focused regulations in some countries amount to censorship, and Apple is too quick to comply. Apple claims that following the laws of the countries in which it operates is its top priority, regardless of whether it agrees with them.
Apple’s human rights policy states, “We’re required to comply with local laws, and there are times when there are complex issues about which we may disagree with governments.”
Apple’s actions appear to be predictable. Apple will remove an app from China if it discusses banned topics such as Tiananmen Square, the Chinese spiritual movement Falun Gong, the Dalai Lama, Tibet, and Taiwan independence, according to a May report in The New York Times.
Additional complications for Apple as a company point to the company complying with state regulations: Apple’s hardware supply chain is heavily reliant on China, which is one of the company’s most important markets.
Quran Majeed isn’t the only Chinese app that’s been removed from the App Store. Olive Tree’s Bible App was also taken down in China this week. According to Olive Tree, Apple took it down on its own initiative.
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