Islamic leaders join efforts against extremism

Updated: 2014-05-16 06:53

By Gao Bo in Urumqi (China Daily)

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China’s top Islamic leaders urged the nation’s Muslims to resist religious extremism and oppose to terrorism after a number of violent attacks in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region in March and April.

Around 80 religious leaders and scholars discussed Islamic doctrine by quoting the Quran and the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad on Wednesday and Thursday in Urumqi, the region's capital. On Thursday, Islamic leaders in China passed a proposal calling on all Muslims in the country to regulate their behavior, resist religious extremism and improve their moral outlook.

Abulitif Abdureyim, director of the Xinjiang Islamic Association, said governments at all levels in the region are resisiting religious extremism.

"The attackers who carried out the terrorist activities cannot go to heaven because they have violated the sayings in the Quran," he said.

Wang Yujie, a professor of religious studies at Renmin University of China, said separatist forces are the main source of terrorism in Xinjiang.

In recent years, China has seen a number of violent attacks on police, government organs and civilians. Most of the attacks have taken place in Xinjiang.

A national security blue paper said on May 6 that religious extremism was the major reason for 10 violent terrorist attacks last year.

On March 31, the regional government banned the spread of religious extremism and violence. In less than 40 days, police arrested and detained more than 200 suspects who produced, uploaded or forwarded videos or audios featuring religious extremism and violence, including instructions on how to make bombs.

On April 30, a blast at a railway station in Urumqi killed three people and injured 79. A video released by a group called the "Turkestan Islamic Party" claimed responsibility for the attack. The Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday that the claim has yet to be verified.

On March 1, knife-wielding terrorists killed 29 people and injured 143 at a railway station in Kunming, capital of Yunnan province.

The East Turkestan Islamic Movement, listed by the United Nations as a terrorist group, expressed support for the attack days later in an online video.

ETIM also claimed responsibility for an attack at Tian'anmen Square in October 2013 that killed five people and injured 40.

Kahar Smayi, the leader of a mosque in Kuqa county in Xinjiang, said he was worried that the spreading of religious extremism at the grassroots level might cause more terrorist attacks.

"We are taking training courses and lectures on the Islamic moderate centrism among believers," he said.

During an inspection tour of Xinjiang in April, President Xi Jinping urged police officers to devise "effective ways" to deal with terrorists, the third time in a month he has spoken about the issue of fighting terrorism.

A team of weapons trainers was sent this week by the Ministry of Public Security to Xinjiang to help train local police for terrorist situations.