Quran Majeed, a popular Quran app, was removed by Apple from their App Store in China. Other religion-related apps were also removed, including the Bible App by Olive Tree. Apple Censorship first reported the series of targeted takedowns on the religiously inspired apps on Tuesday, October 12, 2021.
A militant-activist website, Apple Censorship aims to hold Apply accountable for its App Store transparency. In a Tweet on October 12, the website satirical claimed that Apple considers all religions as equal and then announced that they removed both Quran and Bible apps in the Chinese version of the App Store.
— applecensorship.com (@applecensorship) October 12, 2021
In a more recent tweet, Apple Censorship announced that Apple had removed at least nine religion-related apps in the Chinese version of the App Store. The list included apps for Jehovah’s Witnesses, NWT Bibles, and other bible apps for different Bible versions.
Since September 30th, we have detected that at least 9 religious apps, which were previously available in China, were removed from China's @AppStore:
Jehovah’s Witnesses Kingdom: removed between 06/29/2021 and 9/30/2021 https://t.co/RwoOT03Iot 1/4 @Apple #censorship #AppleEvent
— applecensorship.com (@applecensorship) October 18, 2021
Responding to BBC, Pakistan Data Management Services (PDMS), the makers of Quran Majeed said that Apple removed their app from the Chinese market “because it includes content that requires additional documentation from Chinese authorities.” “We are trying to get in touch with the Cyberspace Administration of China and relevant Chinese authorities to get this issue resolved,” PDMS added.
Hasan Shafiq Ahmed, PDMS’s head of growth and relationships, said that those who already have the app on their phones can still use it. “We are looking to figure out what documentation is needed to get approval from Chinese authorities so the app can be restored,” Ahmed added.
BBC did not receive any response from Apple. Instead, the tech giant referred BBC to their Human Rights Policy. Page two of the document explains Apple’s decision to remove the apps from the Chinese App Store. “We’re required to comply with local laws, and at times there are complex issues,” the statement said.
The removal of Quran Majeed from the Chinese App Store is just one of the series of coordinated crackdowns by the ruling Communist Party. Last week, Amazon pulled out Audible, an audiobook service from China. Amazon cited “permit requirements” as the reason for the pullout. This year, China also took greater control of internet algorithms companies use to customize content.
The Chinese embassy in the US declined to comment on the recent app removals. Liu Pengyu, a spokesperson for the Chinese embassy, said that China has “always encouraged and supported the development of the Internet.” “The development of the Internet in China must also comply with Chinese laws and regulations,” Pengyu added.