by Hugh Fitzgerald
In Pakistan this May, Chinese ambassador Yao Jing gave an interview in which he assured his hosts that the Chinese government puts no restrictions on Muslims.
Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing has said that Chinese government has given full freedom to the Muslims and allowing them to observe fasting in Ramazan [Ramadan]. Muslims in China have full rights to practice Islam.
In an exclusive interview with ‘The News’ Chinese Ambassador Yao has said that western media is showing totally different picture that Muslims in China don’t have freedom to follow Islam whereas situation on ground is totally different. [The substandard English has been left throughout.]
He said in China everyone is free to follow his religion in China because law gives them full protection to practice religion no mater one [sic] is Muslim, Christian or follow any other religion. Chinese ambassador said there is no restriction by the government even for government employees. “Muslims are free to follow Islam like in Pakistan,” he added.
Ambassador told that Xinjiang is the Muslims majority region of China and they have around 24,400 mosques and many religious colleges in which number of Muslims are getting Islamic education. Not only this during Eids and traditional festivals, Muslims enjoy holidays here, which shows they are free to practice Islam in China.
Chinese ambassador further told that like other parts of the world a number of religious believers provide free ‘iftar’ to fasting people and the local governments help them to arrange religious activities go in order. [sic]
“Every year number of Chinese Muslims performs Haj and Xinjiang government helps them to get medical treatment and other facilities,” Chinese ambassador told. Chinese Ambassador said that China is growing economy in the world and some unhealthy minds are not happy with its development that’s why western media is doing this propaganda that Muslims in China are not allowed to practice Islam.
Xinjiang province has distributed 43 Islamic publications in different languages of minority ethnic groups, totalling over one million copies, including over 230,000 copies of new Koran and over 29,000 copies of Basic Knowledge of Islam, both in the Uygur language. Thousands of books have been translated and published on Quran and Selections from Al-Sahih Muhammad Ibn-Ismail al-Bukhari in different languages, which are available in open market. Every year Xinjiang sent number of Chinese Muslims students to Pakistan, Egypt and other Muslim countries for further studies, and to improve their religious knowledge.
The famous definition of a diplomat as “someone who is sent abroad to lie for his country” fits perfectly here. Far from allowing Muslims to observe Ramadan without hindrance, it has made it harder, or in some cases impossible, for the devout to do so. The Chinese government in 2017 passed laws requiring all restaurants to stay open during Ramadan. Further, it has forbidden teachers, civil servants, and all those working in the public sector from observing Ramadan, and if any are caught doing so “they will be dealt with.”
As for the ambassador’s mention of the “new Qur’ans” distributed by the Chinese government, it should be noted that Muslims have been required to hand in their own Qur’ans to the government, if those copies were published before 2012. The reason for this is that in 2012 the Chinese government prepared “new” Qur’ans, heavily censored, with the “meaning’’ of the verses that remained annotated by government experts so as to lessen their anti-infidel message. The only Qur’ans now allowed are the versions published by the government.
The ambassador claims in his interview that Muslims in China are free to go on the hajj. He fails to note that Muslims in Xinjiang must request government permission to do so, and that they are asked to register their age, job, health, and economic status. Strict guidelines are put in place for applicants, who must be aged between 50 and 70 and have lived in Urumqi, the region’s capital, for at least five years. They are thoroughly investigated by the government for their political views; anyone who has displayed the slightest hint of being politically unreliable is denied permission to go on the hajj.
Furthermore, all those who apply to go on the hajj must also pledge allegiance to the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and to national unity (and therefore against Uighur independence).
Indeed, Muslims who travel abroad for any reason, not just for the hajj, upon their return are subject to particular scrutiny, especially if they have spent any time in Muslim countries. More than 120,000 have been placed in re-education centers, lest they have been exposed to “subversive” ideas from non-Chinese Muslims while abroad.
As for other restrictions on Islam, in Xinjiang imams have been subject to public humiliation by being forced to dance en masse in public, and at the same time, were made to make an oath to keep children away from religion, and as public servants, paid by the state, the imams were forced to brandish the slogan that “our income comes from the CKP not from Allah.” Many of the imams were forced to wave Chinese flags during their ordeal. Speeches were made — it’s unclear from the reports if these were by Chinese government officials or by government-approved imams — in which young people were told both to stay away from mosques and that prayer was harmful to one’s health. Teachers throughout Xinjiang have been instructed to teach children to stay away from religion; retired teachers have been posted outside mosques during Ramadan to prevent students from entering.
Mosques have been required to push Communist propaganda, swapping inscriptions about Muhammad for red banners that declare, “Love the Party, Love the Country.”
Muslim men have been required to shave “abnormal” or “religious” beards; punishment is strict; one man was sentenced to six years in jail for refusing to do so. Names given to children must not be “religious.” Twenty-nine names have been banned so far, such as Islam, Saddam, Mecca, Quran, Jihad, Medina; all are now strictly forbidden. Women may not wear any veils that cover the face; even women wearing only the hijab have been prevented in some parts of Xinjiang from using busses. Muslims are required to listen to the official state television (i.e., that carry anti-Muslim, and pro-Communist propaganda), and cannot prevent their children from attending state schools.
When the Chinese ambassador to Pakistan offered his preposterously sanitized version of how his government treats Muslims, he had no fear of being cross-examined. For he knew that Pakistan needs China, both as an economic partner, and as a military ally — China supplies 70% of Pakistan’s weaponry — and the Pakistani government is not about to contradict the official Chinese line. The Chinese are, in stark contrast to the fearful and appeasement-minded West, unafraid to come down hard on Islam. And the Pakistanis do not dare to protest. The reason the ambassador lied is simple: because he could.
First published in Jihad Watch.