China Has Cracked Down on Islam-Truth!
Summary of eRumor:
Social media posts and blog sites have reported that China has made “major moves to ban Islam,” including banning female head coverings and discouraging men from growing long beards.
It’s true that a number of cities have banned head coverings and long beards as part of a larger crackdown on religious extremism.
But China has cracked down on Christianity and other religions in recent years, too.
Reports of the “crackdown” first went viral in August 2014. Karamay, a city in the Xinjiang region of China, banned people wearing Islamic clothes or who had long beards from riding public buses. The ban was temporarily enforced during a local sports competition, but local officials had already “discouraged” Muslim dress before the law was passed, New Deli Television reports:
“Xinjiang, a resource rich region which abuts central Asia, is the homeland of China’s mostly Muslim Uighur minority and has been hit by a wave of clashes between locals and security forces which have killed hundreds in the past year.
China has blamed several deadly attacks on civilians outside the region in recent months on ‘terrorists’ seeking independence for the region.”
Then, local authorities in Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang region, banned Islamic veils in December 2014. Again, state-run media reported that the ban was part of a crackdown on a wave of violence in the region that had been attributed to Uighur militants who were helped by overseas terrorist groups, the BBC reports.
So, this eRumor is true — but religious repression in China isn’t a new development.
Officially, China declared itself as an atheist country in 1949 and “widespread religious repression” followed in Mainland China. But the country has experienced a “religious revival” over the last 40 years. The government recognizes Buddhism, Catholicism, Daoism, Islam and Protestantism as religions, but it identifies religious groups as threats to national security, the Council on Foreign Relations reports:
“Christians have faced growing repression in recent years. China ranked twenty-ninth on the 2015 World Watch List compiled by Open Doors, a U.S.-based Christian non-profit, that tracks the persecution of Christians worldwide, up from thirty-seventh the previous year. Repression campaigns have not been consistent, but they have recently targeted both house and state-sanctioned churches—be it through the harassment and detention of Christian oberverants, blocking entry to sites of worship, interrupting gatherings, dismantling crosses, or demolishing churches. In 2014, party officials in the eastern coastal province of Zhejiang’s city of Wenzhou, known for its large Christian population, ordered the removal of hundreds of crosses and demolition of dozens of churches that allegedly violated construction regulations. In February 2015, Zhejiang party officials announced that the party would enforce a ban on religious belief among party members to prevent the ‘penetration of Western hostile forces.’ These campaigns raised fears of possible widespread action against Christianity, but they seem to have been isolated cases.”
So, it’s true that cities in China have cracked down on Islam in recent years, but the same is true about Christianity and other religions.