China’s fear of Islam and its impact on Muslims

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Photo Credit: Business Recorder

“A community is like a fruit,” says a Uighur driver from Kashgar. “Squash it too hard and it will burst.”

These words are resonant of the frustration and anger the Chinese Muslim community in the Xinjiang province where ethnic Uighurs are subjected to extreme religious profiling and political, cultural harassment.

In a report published by The Economist on the situation in the volatile province, it is clear that China is sitting on an explosive powder keg that may explode at any time leaving China little space but to use violence to crush a potential rebellion.

According to The Economist, in recent months China have intensified their efforts to stifle the Islamic identity of Xinjiang’s ethnic Uighurs, fearful that any public display of their religious belief could morph into militancy.

Among the measures hitting the 10m Uighurs (nearly half of its population) is a ban on what is called “unauthorised pilgrimages” to Mecca, orders to students not to fast during Ramadan, tough restrictions on Islamic garb (women with face-covering veils are sometimes not allowed on buses), no entry to many mosques for people under 18, and so on.

All this is the doing of Xinjiang’s Communist Party chief, Chen Quanguo who is behind even harsher measures.

Many Xinjiang residents have been told to hand their passports to police and seek permission to travel abroad.

In one part of Xinjiang all vehicles have been ordered to install satellite tracking-devices and there are measures that touche the individuals, such as limitations imposed on beards, and prohibitions on “naming of children to exaggerate religious fervour”.

A leaked list of banned names includes Muhammad,

A leaked list of banned names includes Muhammad and Saddam, but if parents does not follow the orders, their children may be banned from free schooling and health care.

Residents have also been asked to spy on each other.