Muslim and Christian holy book apps and Amazon's audiobook service Audible have been removed from App Store in China reportedly at a request of the country's officials.

Apple has taken down one of the world's most popular Quran apps in China, Majeed, along other apps, following a request from officials.
Apple has taken down one of the world's most popular Quran apps in China, Majeed, along other apps, following a request from officials. (AP)

Amazon's audiobook service Audible and phone apps for reading the holy books of Islam and Christianity have disappeared from the Apple store in mainland China.

Audible said on Friday that it removed its app from the Apple store in mainland China last month “due to permit requirements."

The makers of apps for reading and listening to the Quran and Bible say their apps have also been removed from Apple's China-based store at the government's request.

Apple didn’t return requests for comment on Friday. 

A spokesperson for China's embassy in the US declined to speak about specific app removals but  the development of the Internet in China must "comply with Chinese laws and regulations" an emailed statement from Liu Pengyu said.

China's government has long sought to control the flow of information online, but is increasingly stepping up its enforcement of the internet sector in other ways, making it hard to determine the causes for a particular app's removal.

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Widely used Quran Majeed app also removed

What appears to link Audible with the religious apps is that all were recently notified of permit requirements for published content.

Pakistan Data Management Services, which makes the Quran Majeed app, said it is awaiting more information from China's internet authority about how it can be restored. 

The app has nearly one million users in China and about 40 million worldwide, said the Karachi-based company.

“We are looking to figure out what documentation is needed to get approval from Chinese authorities so the app can be restored," said Hasan Shafiq Ahmed, the company's head of growth and relationships said in an email.

The maker of a Bible app said it removed it from the Apple store in China after learning from Apple's App Store review process that it needed special permission to distribute an app with “book or magazine content." 

Olive Tree Bible Software, based in Spokane, Washington, said it's now reviewing the requirements to obtain the necessary permit “with the hope that we can restore our app to China’s App Store and continue to distribute the Bible worldwide."

The Council on American-Islamic Relations condemned Apple's actions, saying the company was enabling China's religious persecution of Muslims and others.

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Source: TRTWorld and agencies