Chinese authorities have decided that the Muslim religion is a danger to their society and have taken measures that many will find extreme. In the north-western region of Xinjiang, a community of Uyghur Muslims are being told they cannot have their religious paraphernalia – or risk severe punishment. They have been “ordered” to voluntarily turn over all religious items to the authorities, including the Quran, prayer mats and pretty much anything associated with their religion.
Daily Mail reported on the events, stating: “The spokesman for the exiled World Uyghur Congress group, DilxatRaxit, said they received a notification saying that every single ethnic Uyghur must hand in any Islam-related items from their own home.”
Earlier this year, Xinjiang authorities started removing Qurans that were published five or more years ago because these editions are believed to contain extremist content. The Quran removal is part of the “Three Illegals and One Item” campaign which directed officials to confiscate any “illegal” religious items, which belong mostly to the Muslim Uyghurs. The directive also bans religious teaching and activities as well as “tools of terrorism” including knives and flammable objects.
China claims the new requirements are necessary because it faces “threats from domestic cults and radical Islam.”The 2017 Religious Affairs Regulations (RAR) has some strong language and rules for religious practices. Take note of a few quotes from the new regulations set to go into effect in February 2018:
Religious groups, religious schools, religious activity sites, and religious citizens shall abide by the Constitution, laws, regulations, and rules; practice the core socialist values; and preserve the unification of the country, ethnic unity, religious harmony and social stability…
…Individuals and organizations must not create contradictions and conflicts between different religions, within a single religion, or between religious and non-religious citizens; must not advocate, support, or fund, religious extremism; and must not use religion to undermine ethnic unity, divide the nation or carry out terrorist activities.
The Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) feels China’s State Council targets faith communities and punishes them for not having the same beliefs:
“Uyghurs have long been portrayed as disloyal to the Chinese state,” said Omer Kanat, UHRP director.“The intensification of this process since the 9/11 attacks on the United States has placed Uyghurs under the strictest laws governing religion and turned Uyghurs across China into permissible targets of ethnic profiling. We are now witnessing the extension of this divisive approach to other religious groups in China.”
Reportedly, the confiscation of religious items has grown to include the Kazakh population. Any Kazakh products, language or symbols have been outlawed. Radio Free Asia (RFA) said a leaked police notice from Changji ordered officials to search for Kazakh items.
“Any items bearing writing or any other traces of Kazakhstan, including street signs or graffiti, store decorations, arts and crafts items, T-shirts and so on, must immediately be investigated … and a detailed report made to higher authorities by Sept. 25,” the notice, dated Sept. 22, said.
RFA’s source claimed restrictions of sales from Kazakhstan, including organic products and noodles. Chinese authorities, according to RFA have ordered Kazakh Chinese nationals to turn in their passports and green cards, and have “reportedly detained dozens of Kazakhs returning from overseas study or family visits to Kazakhstan, sending them for indefinite terms in “re-education” facilities.”
Is the Chinese government going too far in its war against terrorism? On the one hand, there is outrage that the freedom of religion – one of the chief goals of our founding fathers – is being denied to others. This isn’t even about public displays of a person’s beliefs. People are being forced to remove their religious items from the privacy of their own homes.
On the other hand, terrorism is a real threat, and unfortunately for the Muslims, there is great fear surrounding them. After 9/11, the world viewed Muslims differently – with apprehension and distrust. The continued war and bombings have not helped the cause. Fear makes people – and governments – do things they wouldn’t normally do.
President Donald Trump’s travel ban and wall don’t seem so bad now, do they?