Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Chinese police clash with Muslims

Hundreds of Muslims in a northwestern China village trying to prevent the demolition of their mosque clashed with police, causing several deaths. Fighting between police and members of the largely Muslim Hui ethnic group broke out on Friday in Ningxia region, adjacent to Inner Mongolia province, after authorities declared their newly built mosque illegal.

Hundreds of residents in Taoshan village confronted police armed with teargas, truncheons and knives. A Taoshan resident told Reuters he was away at the time of the clash, but that his relatives in the town believed five people had been killed. Residents of nearby areas complained that telephone links with Taoshan had been cut, making it impossible to verify what had happened.

"They were just trying to hold a religious activity but the authorities would not allow it. They demolished the mosque and now they've covered over the ground, because there was so much blood on the ground," Jin said. A small business owner in Tongxin, three km (two miles) from the mosque site, told Reuters that the village had been sealed off.

"It's ridiculous, I am a Muslim, and Muslims need a mosque. They are just ordinary people, coming together for religious purposes, not to overthrow Communist Party rule," the man said.

China has experienced sporadic unrest among its Muslim minorities, most notably involving the Uighurs, a Turkic language-speaking people native to the country's western Xinjiang region. There are about 10 million Hui in China, making them the country's largest Muslim group. In many parts of China, the Hui have blended in with the predominant Han Chinese culture, all but abandoning Islam except for some traditions, such as circumcising male children and avoiding pork. But ethnic tension has led to some unrest. At least seven people were killed in the central province of Henan in 2004 after a car accident involving an ethnic Han Chinese and Hui sparked rioting. In 1993, a cartoon ridiculing Muslims led to police storming a mosque taken over by Hui in northwestern China.

Uighurs in Xinjiang rioted against Han Chinese residents in 2009 and at least 197 people were killed, according to official estimates.China's ruling Communist Party says it protects freedom of religion, but it maintains a tight grip on religious activities and allows only officially recognized religious institutions to operate.

Live Long and Prosper...


Ted Leddy said...

The ethnic violence in these Muslim regions of China could be much much worse than we know. The Chinese seem to have dealth with the troublesome Facebook and Twitter generation much more efficiently than the Arabs. If there was widspread violence in a remote part of China the authorities would be quite capable of hiding it from the rest of the world.

Gary said...

You are right on the mark.The Chinese have been experiencing increasing internal problems from a variety of sources -ethnic tensions, religious intolerance, a slowing economy with increasing unemployment. The fact that they actually spend more each year on internal security then they do on military buildup and expansion says a lot.