Ending terror not at odds with religious rights in Xinjiang

Source:Global Times Published: 2016-6-2 20:33:01

China issued a white paper titled "Freedom of Religious Belief in Xinjiang" Thursday, noting that the religious freedom in Xinjiang today "cannot be matched by that in any other historical period." The progress and significance of religious freedom in Xinjiang is noteworthy.

According to the white paper released by the Information Office of the State Council, "the positive role of religious circles in promoting economic development and social stability is well displayed, the government's capability of administrating religious affairs is constantly strengthened, international exchanges in the religious field are being expanded, and the proliferation and spread of religious extremism is being effectively contained."

The principle of religious freedom has been comprehensively implemented in Xinjiang since 1949, the document notes, adding that the believers' religious needs are effectively met and respected.

However, despite the outstanding progress Xinjiang has achieved during the past 67 years, Western countries are still hyping up the lack of religious freedom in the region. According to the Western media, local people in Xinjiang, due to their religious beliefs, are discriminated against in the job market.

Some companies tend to label employees based on their ethnic background. It is an issue of regional inequality, which is also common in other countries, and time is needed to address the problem fully.

Chinese politicians and lawmakers have already devoted their efforts to curbing regional and ethnic inequality. Lawmakers of Xinjiang passed a regulation on improving ethnic unity in 2015, stipulating that service providers who turn away people because of their ethnicity or religious belief will be reprimanded and may face fines from the local government.

Some Western countries also accused Xinjiang of violating religious freedom in the region's fight against extremism. Those accusations are ill-founded. Plagued by violent terrorist attacks in recent years, Xinjiang has strengthened efforts to combat the spread of extremism, the root of terror.  

Freedom of religious belief has been codified in law since 1949. Anti-extremism action, on the other hand, was launched in recent years to combat terrorism in the region. The spread of extremism is believed to be the key reason for an increasing number of terrorist attacks in Xinjiang and other places in China. Therefore, anti-extremism action is of vital importance to resist the infiltration of Xinjiang religious radicals. There is no contradiction between anti-extremism action and freedom of religious belief.

In view of the West's misunderstanding about Xinjiang anti-extremism action, the Chinese government, on the one hand, should stay calm and handle its domestic affairs according to its laws and regulations.

On the other hand, China should follow the principle of transparency. Facing suspicion, the Chinese government may consider inviting foreign media to visit Xinjiang.

Misunderstandings arise from a lack of knowledge of the real situation. The Western media may develop a better understanding if they know more about Xinjiang's situation.

The article was compiled by Global Times reporter Liu Jianxi based on an interview with Turgunjun Tursun, an associate researcher of the Sociology Institute at the Academy of Social Sciences of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. [email protected]

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