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Apple removes popular religious apps in China

October 15, 2021, 8:44 PM UTC

Just a day after Microsoft announced the takedown of LinkedIn in China, Apple has removed two popular Quran and Bible apps from the region’s App Store.

One of the stricken apps, Quran Majeed, had close to one million users in China and has approximately 35 million users worldwide. According to a statement from the app’s maker, PDMS, which was originally provided to the BBC, the app was removed by Apple “because it includes content that is illegal.” The BBC later revised this to say, citing PDMS, that the app “includes content that requires additional documentation from Chinese authorities.”

Olive Tree’s Bible app was also taken down this week with the company claiming it was withdrawn by Apple. (Apple did not immediately reply to Fortune’s request for more information about the two app disappearances.)

The Chinese market makes up a significant portion of Apple’s sales, and the company depends heavily on manufacturers in the country to make its products. Some say that the relationship makes it difficult for the tech giant to turn down the government’s requests.

“They need to do the right thing, and then face whatever the reaction is of the Chinese government,” Benjamin Ismail, project director of Apple Censorship, which first spotted the removals, told the BBC

As a matter of policy, Apple complies with Chinese censorship. The company regularly removes apps to follow local laws and regulate off-limit topics, like Tiananmen Square and independence for Tibet and Taiwan. 

While the Chinese communist party recognizes Islam as an official religion, the Chinese government has come under fire for major human rights violations against its Turkic Muslim population. In February, it removed political discussion app Clubhouse, where members of China’s Uighur minority and Han majority frequently discussed topics like concentration camps and democracy.

Despite these controversies, it seems as though Apple will continue to follow the Chinese government’s requests. Its Human Rights Policy reads, “We’re required to comply with local laws, and at times there are complex issues about which we may disagree with governments.”

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