16:31 GMT28 February 2020
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    China has for decades sought to curtail Islam in a bid to maintain its influence over Xinjiang, where almost half of the region’s 24 million-strong population are Uighurs or belong to other Muslim minority backgrounds.

    The city administration in Hami in the western Xinjiang region has ordered members of a local Muslim minority group to turn themselves in to authorities if they observe practices such as abstention from alcohol, The Independent wrote.

    The authorities promised that people “poisoned by extremism, terrorism and separatism” would be treated leniently if they surrendered within the next 30 days.

    China insists it is not enforcing arbitrary detention and political re-education.

    The move is part of Beijing’s policy of clamping down on religious extremism and practices of Xinjiang’s Uighur Muslim minority and other ethnic groups living in the region.

    Those who reject government-provided housing, alcohol or cigarettes as things forbidden by Islam were ordered to notify authorities. Preventing dancing at weddings, as prescribed by the Quran, is also listed as problematic behaviour.

    Xinjiang authorities are also introducing laws banning traditional Islamic clothing.

    In October, city authorities in Xinjiang’s capital Urumqi launched a campaign targeting halal products, like food and toothpaste produced according to Islamic law, in an effort to prevent the incursion of Islam into secular life.

    The authorities are worried by recurrent attacks by Islamist extremists aimed at stirring up tensions among the region’s Han Chinese majority and the Muslim minority.

    READ MORE: Human Rights Activists Say Xinjiang Uighur Reeducation Camps Overflowing

    Hundreds have been killed in a string of terror actions in Xinjiang in the last 20 months. Islamist radicals have attacked governmental security forces as well as peaceful civilians in the region.

    The Chinese authorities have accused foreign-backed Muslim extremists, particularly the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), a radical Islamist organization.


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