China amends anti-extremism regulations to write Xinjiang's 're-education' camps into law

Elias Hubbard
October 11, 2018

China has taken steps to make Muslim prison camps legal - despite allegations detainees are made to condemn their faith.

The move follows months of persecution of the 12 million Muslims, majority Uighurs, who live in the northwestern region. On Tuesday, a newly revised edition was released with passages referring for the first time to "vocational training centers", casting them as part of the government's efforts to counter extremism.

The amended legislation states that Chinese regional governments "can set up vocational education and training centers.to educate and transform those who have been influenced by extremism".

In 2017, China banned activity deemed "extremist" was banned, including wearing a headscarf, having "abnormal" beards, refusing to follow state media, or preventing children from receiving state education.

Chinese authorities deny that the internment camps exist but say petty criminals are sent to vocational "training centres".

The new regulations in Xinjiang effectively provide a legal basis for those centres.

But James Leibold, a scholar of Chinese ethnic policies at Melbourne's La Trobe University, said: 'It's a retrospective justification for the mass detainment of Uighurs, Kazakhs, and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang. Communist party officials in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, are calling on government officers to strengthen the "ideological struggle" and fight "halalification", or the "pan-halal tendency", according to a notice posted on the city's official account on messaging app WeChat.

The official Global Times said on Wednesday that the "demand that things be halal which can not really be halal" were fuelling hostility towards religion and allowing Islam to penetrate secular life.

The Urumqi Communist Party leaders also said they would require government officials and party members to firmly believe in Marxism-Leninism, and not religion, and to speak standard Mandarin Chinese in public.

The Chinese state-run Global Times newspaper says that the "demand that things be halal which can not really be halal" is fuelling hostility toward religion.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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