According to the BBC, Apple has deleted the Quran Majeed app from the Chinese Software Store, a popular app for reading and listening to the Quran. The app was apparently taken down at the request of government officials, which is odd given that Islam is a protected religion in China.
According to the app’s developer, Pakistan Data Management Services, Quran Majeed is available for free and “recognized by 25 million Muslim users around the world.” According to the creator, “according to Apple, our app Quran Majeed has been taken from the China Program Store because it includes content that is illegal,” the removal had nothing to do with the app’s religious content.
The developer claims it is working with China’s Cyberspace Administration to remedy the problem. Apple and China’s US Embassy have been contacted for comment by The Verge.
While this is logical for business, it has previously put the organization in problematic situations. Apple has deleted VPN apps that allowed Chinese users to bypass censorship, as well as apps that mention Tiananmen Square, the Dalai Lama, or Taiwanese and Tibetan independence. The mistreatment of China’s largely Muslim Uyghur minority has also been linked to Apple’s suppliers in the region.
In any case, Apple is in a terrible situation. It is reliant on the sales and business partnerships it establishes in China. Taking a strong stand against the government may jeopardize this.
Microsoft said this week that the local Chinese edition of LinkedIn would be shut down, conceding separately that complying with Chinese government requests is proving increasingly challenging.
Apple hasn’t discovered that balance yet, and given how reliant it is on China to run its iPhone business, it’s unlikely to happen anytime soon.