Chinese Muslims told ‘hand over Qur’ans and prayer mats or face harsh punishment’

China’s Uyghur Muslims pray (Shutterstock)
Updated 29 September 2017
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Chinese Muslims told ‘hand over Qur’ans and prayer mats or face harsh punishment’

DUBAI: The Chinese government has launched a crackdown on Muslims in the Xinjiang territory in northwestern China – ordering copies of the Qur’an and prayer mats be handed over, or face harsh punishment, Radio Free Asia has reported.
Dilxat Raxit, a spokesman for the human rights group, the World Uyghur Congress said people in several regions had been notified that all Uyghur people must hand over all religious items related to Islam – including copies of the Qur’an and prayer mats.
The information was also broadcast across social media network WeChat, instructing people to hand the items in to government authorities.
The government has targeted Qur’ans in the region for the last five years because it is claimed the holy book contains “extremist content.”
The clampdown is part of the “Three Illegals and One Item” campaign targeting what the Chinese government considers “illegal” religious items owned by mostly Muslim Uyghurs.
The Uyghur Human Rights Project Director Omer Kanat said: “The new religious regulations demonstrate how Xi Jinping’s administration is founded on division. In Xi’s China loyalty is demanded and not earned. Ethnic minorities, dissidents and people of faith present a challenge to Beijing’s vision of unquestioned allegiance to the state. If these groups do not fall into line, their vilification creates a convenient scapegoat for a morally compromised government.”
Muslims are being told to hand over the religious items “voluntarily” to authorities, if any are found in searches then offenders will face harsh punishments.


Divided UN council heads to Sweden for farmhouse retreat

Updated 2 min 16 sec ago
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Divided UN council heads to Sweden for farmhouse retreat

  • 15 ambassadors will join Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for the secluded getaway in a country setting.
  • The three-day retreat beginning Friday comes after one of the council’s most divisive periods, with the United States and Russia split over the alleged chemical weapons attack in Douma.

United Nations, United States: After a week of bitter acrimony over Syria, UN Security Council ambassadors are heading to a farmhouse in southern Sweden for a retreat to try to break the deadlock over how to end the war.
US Ambassador Nikki Haley and her Russian counterpart Vassily Nebenzia will be among the 15 ambassadors joining Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for the secluded getaway in a country setting.
The three-day retreat beginning Friday comes after one of the council’s most divisive periods, with the United States and Russia split over the alleged chemical weapons attack in Douma that lead to military action by Washington and its allies against Syria.
The council met five times on Syria last week including on Tuesday when Russia vetoed a US-drafted resolution setting up a chemical weapons probe while two other proposed measures failed to pass.
The Russia-US rivalry prompted Guterres to declare that the Cold War was “back with a vengeance.”
Asked whether he expected awkward moments during the Swedish retreat, Nebenzia told reporters: “I will see how they feel about dealing with me after all that happened.”
“It’s not news to anyone that the council is divided on Syria,” said Sweden’s Deputy UN Ambassador Carl Skau. “There is some need for humility and patience at this moment.”
The council will be staying at Backakra, the summer residence of Dag Hammarskjold, who was the United Nations’ second secretary-general.
The residence located on the southern tip of Sweden, far from Stockholm, is a “fitting and inspiring venue” to reconnect with the power of diplomacy, said Skau.
“It’s a place to roll up our sleeves, take off our jackets and ties and come up with some real and meaningful ways forward,” he said.
The annual brainstorming session usually takes place in upstate New York, but Sweden, which is a non-permanent council member, offered to host this year’s gathering.
Guterres had told council members that the focus of the meeting would be his plan for a “surge of diplomacy” to address conflicts worldwide, but the council’s deadlock over Syria is emerging as the top priority.