Apple has reportedly been removing several religious text apps in China, including the popular Quran Majeed app which claims to have almost a million users in the region. According to the BBC, the Quran app was removed for hosting illegal religious text but says it’s not clear what rules specifically have been broken.
“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,” said the app’s developer, Pakistan Data Management Services. “We are trying to get in touch with the Cyberspace Administration of China and relevant Chinese authorities to get this issue resolved”.
The app’s takedown was first spotted by Apple Censorship — a website that keeps track of apps on the App Store globally. According to Apple Censorship’s tracker, there have been at least two Quran apps and five Bible apps that were removed from the App Store in China this month alone. Olive Tree’s Bible app was one of the religious apps taken down in China this week but the company said they removed it themselves.
“Olive Tree Bible Software was informed during the App Store review process that we are required to provide a permit demonstrating our authorisation to distribute an app with book or magazine content in mainland China,” said a spokesperson. “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.”
Benjamin Ismail, project director at Apple Censorship, censured the tech giant, saying: “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.”
Neither Apple nor the Chinese government has commented on the matter but Apple did direct 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 and other stakeholders on the right path forward.”