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China tightens screws on Muslims

HONG KONG (SE): Muslims from the predominantly Uyghur populated region of Xinjiang in China are being detained by the hundreds upon return from pilgrimages overseas.
Radio Free Asia reports that local courts in the northwestern region are being told to deal with anyone engaging in any form of illegal religious activity.
The United States of America-funded broadcasting station quoted a human rights lawyer as saying, “There is a huge crackdown in Xinjiang.”
He added, “In March, I went to lodge appeal proceedings and I came across a detention centre—the Changji Detention Centre—where there were 200 to 300 Uyghurs being held after coming back from pilgrimages in the Middle East.”
The lawyer added, “They were all being held for investigation and screening.”
Radio Free Asia says that it has seen a document called the 26 Forms of Illegal Religious Activity, Article 21 of which forbids anyone from travelling overseas on a pilgrimage, including to Mecca, with companies that have not received approval from religious affairs officials.
The lawyer said that it looks like the authorities are going after anyone breaking any of the rules on the list.
“The judge told us that there has already been a case involving a Uyghur who held a gathering in his home,” he said.
“It was winter, just after Chinese New Year, and there was nothing happening, so he held a religious gathering for Muslims. The judge said the trial had already taken place and they are waiting to sentence him.”
Article 4 on the list forbids “Any preaching, Qur’anic interpretation or gathering run by religious figures or religious believers, without prior approval, outside the place of worship pertaining to that religion.”
Article 3 bans “any religious activity organised by persons not in possession of the relevant permits for a religious personage or who have not undergone patriotic education.”

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