Beijing- A court in China’s mainly Muslim Xinjiang region has sentenced a man to six years in prison for “provoking trouble” and growing a beard, a practice discouraged bylocal authorities, a newspaper reported on Sunday.

The court in the desert oasis city of Kashgar sentenced the 38-year-old Uighur to six years, while his wife was given a two-year sentence, according to the China Youth Daily.

The man “had started growing his beard in 2010” while his wife “wore a veil hiding her face and a burqa”, the paper said. The couple were found guilty of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”, a vague accusation regularly used in the Chinese judicial system.

For more than a year the authorities in Xinjiang have been campaigning against men growing beards — a practice officials associate with extremist ideas.

A campaign dubbed “Project Beauty” also encourages women to leave their heads bare and abandon wearing the veil, a relatively widespread practice among the Uighurs — the main Muslim ethnic group in Xinjiang.

The Kashgar couple had “received several warnings” before being charged, the newspaper reported, citing local officials.