New Xinjiang regulation aims to prevent extremism

By Mao Weihua and Cui Jia | China Daily | Updated: 2017-03-31 06:42

Lawmakers in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region have passed China's first legislation on anti-extremism to prevent terrorism from spreading in the region.

The regulation, adopted on Wednesday by the Xinjiang People's Congress, prohibits people in the region from wearing full-face coverings and long beards, which are deemed to promote extremism.

Thirteen other behaviors that indicate extremism are also banned, such as forcing others not to associate with people from other ethnic groups and extending the concept of halal, Islamic dietary law, to apply to things other than food.

The regulation, the full text of which was released on Thursday, will take effect on April 1.

"In Xinjiang, the root of terrorist activities is separatism, and its ideological foundation is extremism," Nayim Yessen, director of the Standing Commitee of the regional legislature, said at a news conference on Thursday.

It took the regional legislature about two years to draft and pass the regulation, which Xinjiang "desperately needs", he said.

"It will help the region to normalize the works on eliminating extremism and ensure such activities can be handled in accordance with the law," Nayim said.

Also, for the first time in China, the regulation clarifies the definition of extremism, saying it is "to use radical religious beliefs to interfere with others' lifestyles and comments", said Qin Wei, director of the regional legislature's legislative affairs commission.

Violators will be cautioned first before being punished in accordance with China's Anti-Terrorism Law and Criminal Law.

"The new regulation mainly focuses on prevention and education rather than punishment," Qin said.

Chen Tong, president of Xinjiang Normal University's Law School, said the regulation will also help law enforcers to distinguish between extremism and religious activities, which should be protected and not affected during the fight against extremism.

Xinjiang, a region in Northwest China that borders on eight countries, including Pakistan and Afghanistan, has been China's main battleground in the fight against terrorism and the penetration of extremism from abroad.

Earlier this month, President Xi Jinping called for a "great wall of iron" to safeguard Xinjiang.

Chen Quanguo, Party chief of Xinjiang, sees keeping the region stable as a major political task.

Shawkat Yiming, a senior Party official of Xinjiang, said: "Extremism is like drugs that can drive people insane and turn normal people into cruel killers. As long as extremism exists, terrorism will spread like cancer."

Eliminating extremism in Xinjiang is a matter of regional stability and national security, he said, adding that although the region has achieved some success in combating extremism, the situation remains grim.

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