At the request of the authorities, Apple has removed one of the most popular Quran apps in the world in China.
Koran Majeed is available on the App Store worldwide and has approximately 150,000 reviews. More than millions of Muslims used it.
The BBC understands that the app has been removed due to the presentation of illegal religious texts.
For comment the Chinese government did not respond to the request of BBC . App removal was first noticed by AppleCensorship, a website that monitors apps on Apple App Stores around the world.
The company said, “According to Apple, the Quran Majid app has been removed from the Chinese app store”
“We are trying to contact the CCA (China Cyberspace Administration) to resolve this issue.”
According to the company, China has about 1 million users.
The Chinese Communist Party officially recognizes Islam as a domestic religion. However, China has been accused of human rights abuses and even genocide against ethnic groups, primarily Muslims and Uighurs, in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region.
Earlier this year, the BBC reported that the Uighur Imam was targeted by the crackdown on China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
Apple declined to comment, but told the BBC that its human rights policy “has to comply with local legislation and can have complex issues that disagree with the government.”
However, the rules that the app was broken in China are unknown. “More than 35 million Muslims around the world trust it,” said Qur’an Majeed.
Last month, Apple and Google removed a strategic voting program set up by imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Russian officials have threatened to fine the two companies if they refuse to leave the app and tell users that they could rob the ruling party candidate.
China is one of Apple’s largest markets, and its supply chain relies heavily on Chinese manufacturing.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has been accused of hypocrisy but keeping silent about China.
Cook criticized Donald Trump’s ban on seven Muslim-dominated countries in 2017.
However, he has also been accused of complying with Chinese government censorship and not publicly criticizing the treatment of Muslim minorities. The New York Times reported earlier this year that Apple would remove the Chinese program if the Chinese government banned it. Topics that cannot be discussed in the program are Tiananmen Square, Chinese Psychiatric Falun Gong, Dalai Lama, and Tibetan and Taiwan independence.
Another popular religious app, the Olive Trees Bible App, was also removed in China this week, but the BBC understands that it was removed by the company itself.
Olive Tree did not respond to the request for comment.
Benjamin Ismail, project manager at AppleCensorship, said: “They have to do the right thing and then face the Chinese government’s response.”
Microsoft announced Thursday that it would shut down its Chinese social network, LinkedIn, saying it was becoming increasingly difficult to comply with the Chinese state.
This decision was made after a professional networking site asked about blocking the profiles of some journalists.