Sunday February 24, 2019
Home World Xinjiang Auth...

Xinjiang Authorities in China Confiscate ‘Extremist’ Qurans From Uyghur Muslims

0
//
Uyghur men gather outside for afternoon prayers at a mosque in Xinjiang's Kashgar prefecture, April 19, 2015. RFA

May 27, 2017: Authorities in northwestern China’s Xinjiang region are confiscating all Qurans published more than five years ago due to “extremist content,” according to local officials, amid an ongoing campaign against “illegal” religious items owned by mostly Muslim ethnic Uyghur residents.

Village chiefs from Barin township, in Kashgar (in Chinese, Kashi) prefecture’s Peyziwat (Jiashi) county, recently told RFA’s Uyghur Service that hundreds of the Islamic holy books printed before 2012 had been seized since authorities issued an order recalling them on Jan. 15.

NewsGram brings to you current foreign news from all over the world.

The Qurans were appropriated as part of the “Three Illegals and One Item” campaign underway in Xinjiang that bans “illegal” publicity materials, religious activities, and religious teaching, as well as items deemed by authorities to be tools of terrorism—including knives, flammable objects, remote-controlled toys, and objects sporting symbols related to Islam, they said.

Emet Imin, the party secretary of Barin’s No. 1 village, told RFA that authorities had confiscated 500 books in the recent campaign sweep of households beginning in January, “most of which were Qurans published before 2012.”

“They can keep Qurans that were published after August 2012, according to an order from the top, but they are not allowed to keep any other versions,” Imin said.

“Other versions should be recalled entirely, even if they were published by the government.”

Imin said that according to the order he received from his superiors, there were “problems” in the earlier version of the Quran related to “some signs of extremism.”

NewsGram brings to you top news around the world today.

“Therefore, we issued a notice on Jan. 15 urging residents to hand over older Qurans and warning them they would bear the consequences if banned versions were found in their homes,” he said.

“As a result, most of them brought their Qurans to us. We gathered all [the books] at the village office and [earlier this month] we took them to the office of United Front Work Department,” he added, referring to a Communist Party agency responsible for handling relations with China’s non-party elite.

Only materials signed off on by official religious organizations endorsed by the ruling Chinese Communist Party are considered legal to own and use for worship in China, and Imin did not explain how a state-sanctioned version of the Quran might have been deemed “extremist” by authorities.

Imam Rishit, the party secretary of Barin’s No. 2 village, said that while the recall was only issued for Qurans published prior to 2012, residents of his village turned in every version of the Quran they owned, “most likely to [do whatever they can to] stay out of trouble.”

“We collected 382 of them and they will be taken to the township government,” he said.

Check out NewsGram for latest international news updates.

“The type of work we are doing right now is meant to discourage residents from reading older versions of the Quran by warning them that they will be contaminated by extremist ideas. Therefore, the Uyghurs have been bringing their Qurans to us—even the ones they inherited from their grandparents.”

Rishit said authorities in his village had also confiscated “plates and decorative items with the inscriptions ‘Muhammed’ and ‘Allah’ on them” during the sweep of homes since January.

Anti-Islamic policies

Overseas Uyghurs slammed the Quran ban as merely another bid by Chinese authorities to exert more control over the Xinjiang region by linking their ethnic group’s cultural traditions to terrorism and promoting more government-friendly versions.

“The real objective of the Chinese government is to alienate Uyghur people from the true belief of Islam,” said Turghunjan Alawudin, Religious Commission chairman of the Munich-based World Uyghur Congress (WUC) exile group.

“China is attempting to justify its wholesale repression of the Uyghur people by distorting the teachings of the Holy Quran, Hadith [the sayings of the Prophet Muhammed] and Islamic theology passed down to us by our forefathers.”

Alawudin said that Beijing is working to ensure that the “accepted” version of the Quran legitimizes its “repressive policies” in Xinjiang and teaches the Uyghur people to “submit.”

“In Islam, we must follow Allah and the teachings of Muhammed, but the Chinese government is distorting the Quran by adding passages about submission to authorities so that Uyghurs will acquiesce to its illegitimate and dictatorial rule over our homeland,” he said.

“China’s goal is to use the new translated Quran to confuse the minds of believers and to serve its own political purposes.”

Alawudin denounced any version of the Quran that had been translated from the original Arabic into the Uyghur language by “atheists or communists,” saying only “learned Islamic scholars and true believers” are worthy of translating the holy book.

WUC spokesperson Dilxat Raxit echoed Alawudin’s concerns over what constitutes a legitimate version of the Quran.

“Only independent Islamic researchers and highly-trained religious scholars—not the atheistic Chinese government—should have the authority to pronounce which version of the Quran is correct,” he said.

“Instead of changing the Quran—the Holy Book of all Muslims—China should change its anti-Islamic policies against the Uyghur people disguised as anti-extremism.”

China regularly conducts “strike hard” campaigns in Xinjiang, including police raids on Uyghur households, restrictions on Islamic practices, and curbs on the culture and language of the Uyghur people, including videos and other material.

While China blames some Uyghurs for “terrorist” attacks, experts outside China say Beijing has exaggerated the threat from the Uyghurs and that repressive domestic policies are responsible for an upsurge in violence there that has left hundreds dead since 2009. (RFA)

Next Story

Christmas and Controversies

The Christmas tree came from Germany, Christmas card from England, Santa from the USA, and secular celebrations started all over the world.

0
Christmas
Christmas was invented to convert people by appropriating pagan’s original practices with Christmas.

-By Bharti Raizada

Bharti Raizada
Bharti Raizada

To my knowledge, no other festival is as universal and controversial as Christmas.

As per M-W dictionary, the definition of Christmas is as follows:

“A Christian feast on December 25 or among some eastern orthodox Christians on January 7 that commemorates the birth of Christ and is usually observed as a legal holiday.”

Christ- Mas: is the church service that celebrates the birth of Jesus.

X- Mas: X is the Greek letter Chi that is a short form of the word Christ. In Greek, Christ’s name is Xristos. Therefore, X- mas is the same as Christ-mas. For some, X removes the religious aspect of Christmas by replacing Christ with X and this celebration then becomes more secular to them. You can fill X with anything you like.

People observe or celebrate Christmas in many different ways: religiously, in a secular way, or as a holiday. Some people do not pay any attention and become part of the Christmas in a mixed way.

Christmas
Christmas is celebrated every year to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ

Those who do not celebrate are either indifferent or wage a war against it.

Pagans are unhappy for Christianization of Saturnalia. Christians are complaining about paganization or secularization of Christmas. Some Christians believe that it is not their festival at all.

Actually, if we dig deep into it, we come to know that Christ’s birthday and life have been surrounded with assumptions. There is controversy whether he was Jewish or Christian; and whether Jews or Romans crucified him.

Contrasts between Hinduism and Christmas

Now, before we go further into the roots of this topic, let us take a glance at Christmas from the Hindu point of view. Here is how I would summarize a few contrasting points.

  1. Trees are sacred to Hindus. We worship them and believe that Devi, Devtas, or Bhagwan (God) live in them. We do not believe in cutting trees at mass level and bring cut trees inside our home for decoration purposes. We do not believe in the sacrifice of living beings/trees.
  2. We have all four kinds of weather and many varieties of trees but the Christmas tree is typically not found in India.
  3. Chimney is not a common architectural entity in Indian households. Hindu children typically touch the feet of elders, in morning, and get gift of blessings every day. The focus of secular Christmas celebration is expectation of a gift by Santa. Materialism and expectation of gift is not a central part of any Hindu celebration. Hindus give gifts on many occasions but expecting a gift from someone is not a primary theme of any celebration.

    Christmas
    The tree has pagan origins but now it represents Christian beliefs.
  4. Hindus go by facts. Hindu scriptures have a birth date for Ram and Krishn. Christmas celebration is based on an assumption- the assumption that December 25 is the birthday of Jesus.
  5. In Hinduism, one is not a sinner by birth and therefore does not depend on Jesus to save him or her. We all are part of the supreme divinity.
  6. Jesus died in place of all other humans so that they can live, i.e., he rescued humanity. We believe inkarma and therefore do not need Jesus for salvation. Someone else cannot own our sins and give us Moksha. Moksha is attained individually.
  7. Vegetarianism is a common theme in Hinduism. Christmas feasts in church typically include meat and alcoholic beverages.
  8. Hindus have so many festivals. It is not an exaggeration to say that every day is an occasion or festival for Hindus. We do not need more from other religions.

Christmas was invented to convert people by appropriating pagan’s original practices with Christmas. We know, the birth of Christ is not that important to Christians as his Resurrection. Protestants/Puritans do not even consider Christmas as their festival. Initially, the agenda of this celebration was conversion by assimilation.

 When we adopt festivals and traditions, which are not our own, it dilutes our own traditions and festivals and slowly our celebrations are replaced and become obsolete. Additionally, it does not take long (takes only a few generations) to lose our own practices.

Why do some Hindus celebrate Christmas?

  1. While Hindus do not believe in Jesus and Christianity, they get attracted to the holiday by the decorated trees, lights, and Santa. They take pictures, share them on social media, and may inadvertently give the false impression that they believe in Jesus.
  2. Some celebrate it just to show that they are secular and tolerant of other religions.
  3. Some who live in Christian dominated societies celebrate it for the inadvertent fear of exclusion, or to become a part of the process.
  4. Some do not think about it much and take it in a neutral/secular/holiday way. They believe in going by the flow.

    Christmas
    Puritans worked hard to stop Christmas celebrations.

Questions/ Observations:

  1. In USA, the Church and State are separate. Still, Christmas trees shows up in all public places, schools, and government buildings. Is there any explanation for this? If almost all government offices celebrate Christmas, then how are the State and Church/religion separate?

How is it democratic and gives equal rights when non-Christian children also have to do Christmas activities in schools?

How can one avoid this festival in Christian dominated areas? There are decorations, trees, Santa everywhere, in public places, official buildings, schools, malls, zoos, movie theaters, hospitals, parks.

You can choose not to celebrate it in your own home but you cannot close your eyes when you go out.

  1. Christians do whatever the Bible says and the Bible does not give ‘instructions’ to celebrate the birth of Jesus. They have written commandments, everything else is against Christianity. Bible has no Christmas tree and no date for the birth of Jesus. So, is this celebration a violation of the Bible?
  2. Many people greet others using phrases like ‘Happy Holidays’, ‘Season’s Greetings’, Merry Christmas, Jesus is the reason, Happy HOLYdays? Does Christmas become secular by saying Happy Holidays or Seasons Greetings?
  3. Are people forgetting the Christ’ birth part or real reason for Christmas and is it all traveling, feasting, gift exchange or gift giving, tree, decorations, Santa etc.?
  4. How is it justified to cut trees for decoration?
  5. If (religious) minorities cannot mingle with the majority and celebrate their festivals, should majority stop celebrating their festivals?
  6. By teaching your children not to celebrate Christmas, are you inadvertently making them more intolerant towards other people’s beliefs? If your own religion has a solid foundation, why are you scared of learning or teaching other religions or beliefs? Are you scared that you will start facing questions, which you cannot answer?
  7. How does Santa get so much money to donate? What does he do to earn? How does he choose good or bad children? What are the criteria? Is he better than parents are, as he gives gifts? Is it okay to cheat children and give them false information that gifts are from Santa? For how long this lie is going to survive and what happens when they come to know the truth? What is the long-term effect on children who do not behave well and still get a gift from Santa/parents? Do they start believing that they can get away with anything with no consequences? Is it discrimination by Santa to give gifts to good children only?

To answer some of these questions we need to know the history and take part in healthy discussions. A clear understanding of the festival and facts can make a solid foundation of the decision to celebrate or not.

Christmas
Saturnalia is a pagan celebration to honor the god Saturn, as the name Saturnalia itself indicates.

What were the ways of Celebrations before Christmas?

Before Chistmas was ‘invented’, people all over the world used to celebrate the coming of long days in different ways. For example, people in Norse celebrated the festival Yuletide. People carried the biggest Yule log to their home and set it on fire. It gave warmth in cold days and sparks of fire represented new lives to arrive in spring. Because of daily sacrifices, food was abundant. Festivities went on for days, until the log kept burning, usually 10 to 12 days. Evil spirits stayed outside in dark and cold weather. Sacred Evergreen trees kept inside were worshiped. Evergreen represented the natural symbol of life when everything else was dead or inactive in dark and cold winters.

Mistletoe is a ceremony in which the Mistle tree is cut to make an elixir, which is supposed to increase life and fertility, and works as an aphrodisiac. Mistle is a magical, sacred plant. It grows on oak trees, symbolizes peace, and wards off evil spirits.

Saturnalia is a pagan celebration to honor the god Saturn, as the name Saturnalia itself indicates. It is a weeklong festival in December when days are very cold, dark, and gloomy. People stay inside and celebrate. They sacrifice many cattle so that they do not have to feed them in winter when it is hard to go out for food. Because of the slaughtering of cattle, there is a lot of meat, so feasting is a major part of the celebration. Holly bushes hung on doors ward off evil spirits. Role reversal occurs. Masters behave like servers; one chosen person from lower status becomes ruler for the duration of the festival. He enjoys all the freedom and good meals and at the end of the celebration, his sacrifice happens. Juvenilia is the same festival for children.

 Saturnalia culminates in Winter Solstice on December 25. It is the birthday of unconquered Sun God Mithra. People honor his strength and power. It represents the end of long, dark nights and beginning of bright days.