China launches anti-halal campaign in Xinjiang

  • China launches anti-halal campaign in Xinjiang

China launches anti-halal campaign in Xinjiang

China has legalised internment camps believed to be holding hundreds of thousands of Uighur Muslims in the first official recognition of the centres.

Chinese authorities have launched a campaign against halal products in the name of fighting extremism in the capital of Xinjiang, the fractious northwest region where Muslims are facing a raft of religious restrictions.

Chinese officials have denied the existence of arbitrary detention and enforced political re-education, instead saying that some citizens were sent to vocational centres for minor criminal misdemeanours.

"It's a retrospective justification for the mass detainment of Uighurs, Kazakhs, and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang", said James Leibold, a scholar of Chinese ethnic policies at La Trobe University in Melbourne.

However, besides teaching the Mandarin language and providing vocational skills, the centers are now directed to provide "ideological education, psychological rehabilitation and behavior correction" under the new clause. It bans a wide range of acts deemed manifestations of extremism, including wearing veils or "abnormal" beards, refusing to watch state television or listen to state radio, and preventing children from receiving national education.

Beijing has spent decades trying to suppress pro-independence sentiment in Xinjiang fuelled in part by frustration about an influx of migrants from China's Han majority.

Government officials should also not have dietary restrictions, the statement said, adding work canteens would be changed so officials can try "cuisines of various nationalities".

The move follows months of persecution of the 12 million Muslims, a lot of them Uighurs, who live in the northwestern region. China has come under increasing pressure from the U.S. and the European Union after a United Nations panel confronted Chinese diplomats in August over reports of arbitrary mass detentions and harsh security measures aimed at Muslims. Uighurs are native to Xinjiang.