Xinjiang is the new playground for ISIS after the terror group is losing its territories at an alarming rate. Early last month, ISIS released a video pledging to “shed blood like rivers” in attacks against Chinese targets, in what appears to be the barbarian group’s “first direct threat” against China. The 30-minute video shows Uighur fighters in training.
That video, however, has now backfired on the ethnic minority’s homeland of Xinjiang. The Chinese Communist Party clearly wasn’t impressed with the ISIS’ threat. You don’t threaten a communist nation the same way you threatened democratic liberal countries like Germany, France or the U.S. While the West would first debate about human rights, China fights back instantly.
In a pro-active effort to curb extremism and radicalization, Beijing has prepared a recipe specially designed for Muslim Uighur people in Xinjiang. Effective Saturday (1st April), China bans Muslims from wearing veils as part of a major crackdown. Forcing others to wear veils is also forbidden. The latest measure also bans “abnormal” beards and names, as well as other “extremist signs.”
As one of China’s 5 autonomous regions, Xinjiang has been plagued by violent attacks over the years, which Beijing blamed on Uighurs separatists. The Uighurs is Turkic-speaking Muslims who regard themselves as culturally and ethnically close to Central Asian nations and distinct from the Chinese-speaking Han national majority.
While Uighur activists claim Beijing is cracking down on peaceful religious and cultural expression under the pretext of fighting terrorism, China says it is battling separatists and the militant East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM). ETIM, also known as Turkistan Islamic Party, is considered a terrorist organization by China as well as the United Nations.
The ban also includes spreading “extremist ideas” and “using the name of Halal to meddle in the secular life of others.” Besides banning parents from homeschooling their children, Chinese authorities also ban the “naming of children to exaggerate religious fervour.” Heck, it’s also an offense to “refuse or reject” watching state television or radio.
The Uighur people – the dominant Muslim minority in Xinjiang – mostly practice a moderate form of Sunni Islam. Over the years, many have begun the practices of the Saudis or Pakistanis, such as making women wear a full face veil – a sign seen by Chinese Communist Party as opposition and terrorismtowards the central government.
At the annual meeting of China’s parliament earlier in March, Chinese President Xi Jinping said Xinjiang needs a “great wall of iron” that would protect the region. Bordering Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Afghanistan, the separatist Uighur militant group are fighting for an independent East Turkestan in the north-western China.
The definition of veils, while isn’t clear at this moment, is believed to include niqab, burka as well as hijab. The banning on “abnormally” long beard or name hasn’t been explained in details but keeping long beard is normally associated with promotion of “religious fanaticism”. The new legislation which widens the existing rules was passed by Xinjiang lawmakers.
Workers in public places like rail stations and airports will be required to “dissuade” those who fully cover their bodies, including veiling their faces, from entering, and to report them to the police. To fight, or at least to minimize the effect of home radicalization, the Chinese authorities are also banning parents from disallowing children to attend regular school.
In actuality, such bans had been introduced in certain places in Xinjiang. Now, it is being expanded to the whole region, partly thanks to ISIS threat against China. Since August 2014, people with head scarves, veils, long beards and even clothing with the crescent moon and star are prohibited from boarding buses in the city of Karamay in Xinjiang.
The crescent moon and star symbol of Islam features on many national flags, besides being used by separatist Uighur militant group China claims want to set up an independent state called East Turkestan. Police have been offering money for tips on everything from “violent terrorism training” to individuals who grow long beards.
On Feb 20, China authorities in the Bayingolin Mongol Autonomous Prefecture – a Muslim-majority region of the Xinjiang province – began rolling out a system where vehicles must be installed with GPS tracker, without which petrol stations have the rights not to serve. The measure was designed to fight terrorists using vehicles both to transport weapons and as weapons.
The new law also bans the following – using religious instead of legal procedures to marry or divorce, meddling in other people’s weddings, funerals and inheritance; not abiding by family planning policies, and deliberately damaging legal documents. Can you imagine such bans are introduced in America by President Donald Trump?