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China demands that Uighur Muslims eat pork (Times)

12 October 2018

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“Beijing has demanded that China’s Muslim Uighur minority turn its back on the Koran and eat pork.

As part of its war on terror, the ruling Chinese Communist Party has launched an anti-halal movement to stamp out what it believes are radical religious thoughts shared among the country’s 11 million Muslim Uighurs.

Beijing is suspicious of all religions, perceiving them as a threat to party rule, but it is particularly anxious about Islam, which is blamed for fuelling militant violence.

The authorities in Xinjiang, in the far west of the country, are already holding hundreds of thousands of Uighurs in detention camps and forcing them to undergo “deradicalisation” programmes. Prisoners are forced to eat pork, recant their Islamic beliefs and sing songs that praise the Chinese regime.

A UN human rights panel estimates that about one million of China’s Uighurs and other Muslim minorities are in prison and that many have not been charged with any crime. The mass detention programme has drawn criticism from the international community, with Washington demanding that the jails be closed immediately.

On Tuesday the Xinjiang authorities announced that they were changing the local law on what used to be known as vocational skills education and training centres. The new law effectively legalises the prison camps, stating that such centres will “organise de-radicalisation thought education, psychology counselling and behavioural corrections to achieve thought conversion among the trainees so they can return to the society and their families”.

It is the first time that the Chinese authorities have acknowledged the use of prison camps to incarcerate people for harbouring radical thoughts.

Maya Wang, senior researcher at the charity Human Rights Watch, said that the law revision provided no protection for the detention of Chinese Uighurs. “Without due process, Xinjiang’s political education centres remain arbitrary and abusive, and no tweaks in national or regional rules can change that,” she said.

The Xinjiang authorities are seeking to curb the influence of Islam among the wider public by demanding that local Uighurs “liberate” their thoughts by breaking away from Islam and its practices.

An official article written under the pen name Yimu, states: “From the Barkol Grassland to Pamir Plateau, from Altai Mountains to Yarkand River, the currents of a great, new-era thought liberation movement are cleansing the vast land that makes up one sixth of the Chinese territory. With unprecedented and unstoppable paces, the masses are breaking free from the iron cage of religious extremism and antiquated rules.”

The article criticises the Islamic ban on eating pork as a weird rule.

“It’s understandable why pork was not consumed when the economy was backward and the pigs would have be prone to diseases,” Yimu wrote. “Now with our lives improving and the swine-farming technology modernised pork has become a major meat across the world.”

In another official article that Xinjiang government employees are ordered to study, Yusuf Raxit, a government worker, says that he has become a pork eater.

“The halal dietary restrictions brought me many inconveniences and even resulted in social difficulties for me,” he writes. He adds that there is no scientific evidence that pork cannot be consumed, and there is no habit that cannot be altered, and he credits his non-halal habits with marrying a woman from the Han majority.

“Time has progressed, and our minds should not stay in the ancient times of a thousand years ago. We must go with the time and break the so-called food restrictions,” he writes.”

Source: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/world/china-demands-that-uighur-muslims-eat-pork-wm682hgc2

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